The normal tour of duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ranges from 18 months to 2 years.
Though some tomb guards stay for a shorter time and other tomb guards stay longer, all based off of the needs of the U.S. Army. After honorably serving at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, earning a Tomb Guard identification badge and participating in countless ceremonies for our nations fallen heroes it becomes very emotional when it is time to move on. This past Monday on March 6th, 2017 Assistant Sergeant of the Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, SSG John Massey, Badge #638 conducted his last walk and rose ceremony after 2 years serving at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The last walk ceremony is usually a private ceremony that is not publicized, the tomb guard invites his family and close friends and for the last time on the plaza honors The Unknowns of our country.
SSG Massey's Last Walk was early in the morning, he was posted and un-posted by fellow tomb guards that served with him closely over the years. Both were on an off day, meaning they came in after working 26 hours, to be apart of his last walk.
After conducting his last walk at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, he went down to the Tomb Quarters and grabbed his roses.
Walking onto the plaza for the last time, he gave a rose to his wife and daughter then laid one rose at the World War I Unknown, World War II Unknown, Korean War Unknown and the empty Vietnam War Crypt.
All of the Soldier's wreath ceremonies, walks, changes and other important quotes and dates are kept on the back of their flags, this is the flag from SSG Rob Petry, Badge #618.
So if you ever witness a last walk or rose laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, know that it is an emotional day and one to be remembered.
Photo: SSG Shane Vincent's Rose Laying Ceremony.
Thanks for reading! If you have a question you'd like to ask a Tomb Guard, or a story you'd like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in a future blog post.
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)