A week ago today, the temperatures dropped in Washington D.C. and some beautiful snow fell upon the ground. Snow is wonderful when in photographs, or if your a kid sliding, but how does it effect the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Can they dress warmer? Who Shovels the snow?
1st, as the temperatures drops, the commander of the relief adjusts the squads uniforms in accordance with “Army Regulations 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia”.
For example as the temperatures drop they will:
A. Switch out their dress blouse for a heavy Army issued wool overcoat and white scarf.
B. Change out their white cotton gloves for black cold weather gloves and replace the ceremonial hat for the trooper hat.
C. The final uniform adjustment if needed, is swapping out the leather shoes for winter combat boots.
2nd, the soldiers who are not posted on the plaza will come out and shovel the snow. The guard who is posted will go to the green guard shack and guard the Tomb of the Unknowns from there. The other tomb guards will then enter the plaza, salute the Unknowns and shovel the snow.
Ice has a tendency to form on the mat and paths that the changing of the guard ceremony paths, so the Tomb Guards can use salt to keep that from happening. (Though, the salt is seldom used because it will ruin Tomb Guards shoes).
The sacrifice that our fallen soldiers gave in some of the coldest battles during WWI, WW2 and especially in the Korean War, make the Tomb Guards discomfort a small sacrifice, and the guards happily keep watch even in the coldest temperatures and with the heaviest snow storms, honor does not sleep.
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Please check out our new documentary film 'The Unknowns' - www.theunknownsmovie.com - to get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a Tomb Guard, and learn some of the history behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Ethan Morse, Badge #548
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (2005-2006)