Military Matters: The Old Guard - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Military Matters: The Old Guard

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FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) -

Imagine catching a bayonet rifle, thrown in your direction, and doing it without getting hurt.

That should give you some idea of how the U.S. Army drill team manages to amaze crowds wherever they go including on Fort Benning.

Chuck Leonard has the details in our Military Matters segment.

You may have seen the video on YouTube of a soldier silencing a laughing crowd at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

"It is requested that everyone maintains a level of silence and respect," the soldier says.

That soldier is a member of the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, based in Washington.      

One of its chief duties is maintaining a 24-hour watch over the tomb.

But the Old Guard serves other purposes. In fact, its ceremonial drill team took part in a recent graduation ceremony at Fort Benning.

"We practice this five times a week, usually from zero-nine to 16-hundred, it's all day long," said Captain Leonidas Marin, Drill Team Commander. "It's an all-day long event, and not only do we train it but we also screen a lot of the soldiers, and we focus our physical training based on the duties that we perform."

Talk about impressive.

"We're considered a specialty platoon with the Old Guard," Cpt. Marin said. "We do this up to four times a week. It just depends on the season and the number of requests that we receive." 

As you might expect, the crowd was mesmerized by what they saw.

"I thought they were absolutely amazing," said Lisa Lundberg, mother or a graduation soldier. "It actually made me emotional… their precision and their cohesiveness. You could tell they're very dedicated to each other and very dedicated to the Army."

General Winfield Scott gave this unit the name Old Guard after the Mexican War. But they go farther back than that, all the way to 1784.

"Initially commissioned as General Washington's guard, and then from there it took off," Cpt. Marin said.

As for that soldier who silenced the visitors at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Cpt. Marin said he showed military bearing and corrected their flaws and their mistakes.

Since World War II, the unit has served as the official Army honor guard and escort to the President.

In that capacity, the soldiers are responsible for the conduct of military ceremonies at the White House.

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