Monday, June 25, 2012

COL James Markert Takes Command of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment - "The Old Guard"

NOTE:  It's been a busy week so I'm way behind on getting this posted.  Apologies.

On 19 June 2012 at 10:00, COL David P Anders, 78th Regimental Commander, relinquished Command of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard" to COL James "Jim" Markert at Summerall Field on Fort Myer, Virginia.

COL Jim Markert

I'm putting the cart before the horse by publishing that photo at the top but I'm fairly certain COL Markert will have a special place (a good one) in history for his 21 word speech.  It was hot as blazes and the Soldiers had been standing and marching in the heat for close to an hour.

Jim and his wife, Karin, graciously invited me to join them and their three sons, James, Sean and Tommy, for this incredible event.  They even invited me to stay in the guest room of their beautiful home at Fort Myer. 

The night before the Change of Command ceremony, the Markert's home was filled with family and friends from across the United States and from as far away as Germany (as in German citizens - not US military stationed there).  The conversation, food and beverages were endless and enjoyed late into the night. 

Tuesday morning, 19 June, turned out to be a beautiful, albeit a bit hot, day.  Blue skies abounded.  As joyous as the day was for the Markerts and all of us there to join them in this momentous occassion, everyone noted that the day began early with funerals of fallen Heroes and Veterans.  The Markert's home is near the Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer.  The Old Post Chapel sits next to one of the gates into Arlington National Cemetery. 

Old Post Chapel

The morning of the 19th began just as the afternoon of the 18th ended. 

Leaving Arlington National Cemetery

Preparing to enter Arlington National Cemetery

One (at least I couldn't) cannot escape the sadness of the passing of our war Veterans and the deaths of those currently serving.  It hit home even more by knowing that the funerals we were seeing at the Old Post Chapel were only a portion of all of the ones being conducted each day.

While the Old Guard is responsible for the honorable and respectful burial of those who are laid to rest at Arlington, the Regiment has many more responsibilities as well.

The US Army's oldest infantry regiment, The Old Guard, was created on June 3, 1784 as a result of the 1783 Peace of Paris. 

1/3 Infantry conducts memorial affairs to honor our fallen comrades, and ceremonies and special events to represent the Army, communicating its story to our Nation's citizens and the world.  On order, conducts defense support of civil authorities in the National Capital Region.

2/3 Infantry trains for full spectrum operations and, on order, deploys by air, land, and sea IOT serve as part of a contingency force Brigade Combat Team executing full spectrum operations.

4/3 Infantry  (The Old Guard) conducts memorial affairs to honor our fallen comrades, and ceremonies and special events to represent the Army, communicating its story to our Nation's citizens and the world.  Among other Companies under 4/3 is the Honor Guard Company which executes Joint and Army ceremonies throughout the National Capital Region and Nation to maintain the traditions of the US Army, showcase the Army to our nation's citizens and the world, and to defend the dignity and honor of our fallen comrades.  On order, deploys by air or land to pre-designated stateside locations in support of Joint Task Force Ceremony Forward to conduct Active Congressional and State Funeral operations. Be prepared to execute fixed site security in support of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Force Protection Condition Delta contingency operations.

And then their are the Specialty Platoons:

United States Army Drill Team

Caisson Platoon

Continental Color Guard

Presidential Salute Battery

Tomb of the Unknowns - The Sentinels of the Tomb

As we made our way from the Markert's home to Summerall Field we saw the Soldiers preparing for the event.  The uniforms and accutrements were beyond impressive.

Preparing for the Change of Command Ceremony
Flags from each state and territory.  Pretty impressive display.

The Honor Guard preparing for the ceremony

We took our seats and soon after the pagentry and military protocol began.  The Army Band - Pershing's Own took the field and began to play.

The Army Band - Pershing's Own
This photo was not taken when they first march onto the field

Soon after the Soldiers began to take the field.  First came the flags.  Then a group of Soldiers (I'm sure they have a specific name but I cannot remember). 

They were followed by the Continental Color Guard.  Beyond impressive.

The Continental Color Guard

The Color Guard was followed by the Honor Guard.  Then came the Fife and Drum Corps.  Admittedly, they were my favorite but it was very difficult to choose.

The Fife and Drum Corps

COL Markert and COL Anders inspected the troops

Inspecting the troops.  COL Markert on the left.

Then it was time for the Command to change from COL Anders to COL Markert.

COL Markert is now Commander of The Old Guard

COL Markert returning the flag to the Continental Color Guard

COL Anders gave his farwell and thank you speech followed by COL Markert's 21 word speech (referenced at the top). 

And then the "Pass in Review"  A big WOW!!!

The Markert's hosted a reception after the ceremony.

Jim, Karin, their sons, Karin's mother and Jim's parents, brothers (minus one), sister, nephews and nieces

Tommy, Karin, Sean, Jim and James

Rogues gallery - Karin Markert, Bob Miller, me, COL Jim Markert, Sam and Jim Hanson - sadly missing Jonn Lilyea who had to work. 

Jim Hanson aka Uncle Jimbo made the following video from the day's events:

It was beyond an amazing experience. I am forever grateful to Jim and Karin Markert, not only for inviting me to attend, but for hosting me as a guest in their home.

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