JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Soldiers in the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) have a unique and powerful mission that touches lives every day – to help lay to rest men and women who have served the country.
In order to shoulder that responsibility, Soldiers in The Old Guard must make sure that they are always proficient in their ceremonial duties. And from March 18 to April 2, 2015 ... the 1st Battalion was evaluating its performance through the memorial affairs training and evaluation program (MATEP).
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon perform burial services in Arlington National Cemetery during a full military honors ceremony March 18, 2015 for eight Airmen who were shot down and killed in 1944 while on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay, New Guinea. The funeral was one of several events used by The Old Guard's 1st Battalion March 18 to April 2 to evaluate the Soldiers' ceremonial support. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Damien Salas)
The annual program tests teams' knowledge and execution of their duties, determining and awarding the teams who achieve the highest scores. Casket teams, colors teams, escorts and firing parties are all observed and graded, as well as watchmen and cannon teams. Caisson squads were added to the evaluation process this year as well.
But the battalion made some changes to the MATEP for 2015. Instead of gathering on Summerall Field on the Fort Myer portion of JBM-HH and running through simulations of their duties, teams were evaluated on their performance during the real thing – funerals in Arlington National Cemetery.
Lt. Col. David S. Taylor, battalion commander, explained the changes during a celebratory barbeque and awards ceremony April 2, after the MATEP had finished.
“Last year we had a week set aside to go out and judge the companies throughout the week,” he said. “This year really gave us a true, honest look at where we stand as a battalion in terms of memorial affairs. The reality is, when you're out in the cemetery, you should be ready to go. You shouldn't have to train up for a week and then put your A-game on for just a day.”
And the battalion did bring their A-game, he said, noting that he was proud of everyone's performance.
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery fire 100 rounds April 2, 2015 during a memorial affairs training evaluation program at the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The event was one of several events used by The Old Guard's 1st Battalion March 18 to April 2 to evaluate the Soldiers' performance. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Damien Salas)
“I appreciate all the work that you guys do every day and especially these last few weeks,” he told the battalion.
Taylor also reminded his Soldiers that their job is one of immense honor and importance.
“This is the most honorable job I've had in 18 years,” he said. “When we get out to the cemetery and are executing missions for a fallen comrade, it's not about race, it's not religion and it's not about politics. It's not about anything except for giving the family of our fallen a fantastic ceremony and the honorable goodbye that their loved ones deserve.”
He also advised the battalion Soldiers to never take their jobs for granted.
“That family is taking that memory forever,” he said. “Don't ever forget what you guys do. Every day you're in that cemetery ... there's no doubt you impacted an American family and their loved ones. It's a huge, huge honor that you guys carry, and you do a fantastic job day in and day out.”
The Old Guard performed 3,976 funerals in 2014, according to The Old Guard.
A full list of winners is below:
Overall MATEP Winner: Hotel Company
Best Casket Platoons: Bravo Company
Best Firing Party Platoons: Charlie Company
Best Escort: Delta Company
Best Colors Teams: Bravo Company
Best Caisson Team: Squad Three
Top Gun Winner: 3rd Section
By Guv Callahan, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Provided through DVIDS
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