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Training Information on the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard)

Tomb of the Unknowns Sentinels

Sentinels are recruited on an "as-needed" basis in one of the following ways:

Self-referral: The soldier volunteers for duty directly to Company H.

Through chain-of-command: The soldier volunteers for duty through the commanding officer of the company in which he or she is assigned.

From commander of Company H: The commander of the Tomb sentinels requests soldiers from the commanders of other companies

There are three stages to training, with the second and third stages being essentially one. It is divided in the following manner:

TDY: Temporary Duty – 14 to 21 days following recruitment. The soldier is not permanently assigned to the company.

Basic Training: consisting of two stages of exterior training, such as training in the discipline of standing watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These two stages are:

  • Low-visibility walks – guard duty is assigned to new Sentinels during hours in which the cemetery is closed to the public.
  • High-visibility walks – guard duty is assigned to sentinels during normal Cemetery-operation hours.

During the latter stages, sentinels must learn the answers to 300 questions about ANC.

The training on knowledge and military bearing: This stage usually takes five to seven months to finish.

More than 50 soldiers apply or are recruited annually. Of those, one quarter are accepted or choose to accept duty as Tomb Sentinels. Few soldiers resign from duty in Company E after they begin formal training.

Soldiers who volunteer or are referred by their company commanders for consideration are interviewed by the commander of Company E, or the Sergeant of the Guard. Each soldier is evaluated for motivation and dedication, based upon their responses to questions that center on personal and military history, and expressed interest in, and reasons for wanting to be Tomb Sentinels.

If the candidate is married, the spouse is invited to meet with the commander and express his or her opinions. There are no physicals required for selection as a Tomb Sentinel. The Department of the Army requires its soldiers to be in top physical condition.

All of the training takes place at ANC. Soldiers selected as Tomb Sentinels are assigned full time. Their training takes up to eight months to complete.

Once the sentinel has completed his or her training, he or she is examined formally for proficiency in performing the duties and in knowledge of ANC. He or she must first pass a written examination of 100 questions about ANC and then be evaluated on proficiency in keeping watch at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Upon successful completion, the soldier is awarded a temporary Tomb Guard's Badge at a ceremony presided over by the company commander. The Badge is one of the Army's higher honors and can be taken away from the soldier if he or she does not continue to maintain the highest military standards.

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