120 Years Ago Today
On June 22, 1898, soldiers of the 3d Infantry Regiment arrived in Santiago Harbor, Cuba. The Regiment departed Fort Snelling, MN by train on April 19 and traveled over 1,400 miles. They arrived in Mobile, AL two days later. The Regiment trained in Mobile for six weeks, until it was transferred to Tampa, FL on June 13. Upon reaching Tampa, it was assigned to General Shafter’s force en route to Cuba and set sail ten days later, bound for Cuba.
Once ashore, the Regiment is placed in Brigadier General Bates’ Independent Brigade, and placed in reserve at El Pozo, the Headquarters of the US Army Fifth Corps. By July 1, the Regiment is placed into action as part of the Siege of Santiago.
90 Years Ago Today
In the summer of 1928, President Calvin Coolidge left Washington, DC. Many presidents left the capital in summer to avoid the heat and humidity. Coolidge sought refuge in Wisconsin, choosing to spend time fishing at Cedar Island Lodge, near the town of Brule, WI.
The town received a make-over leading up to Coolidge’s arrival. Telegraph and telephone lines were run to support the Summer White House and its staff. A detachment of 3d Infantry Regiment soldiers were dispatched from Fort Snelling, MN to serve as the “President’s Guard.” Coolidge arrived in Superior, WI on June 15 and departed on September 10.
Here President Coolidge, center wearing a white hat, posed with the members of the 3d Infantry detachment. The summer of 1928 foreshadowed for the Old Guard what would come twenty years later. When the the 3d Infantry Regiment was reactivated in 1948, one of its duties was to serve as the Escort to the President. This mission is one the Regiment still maintains today.
On June 13, 1956, the 1st U.S. Army flag was presented to Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker by Vice President Richard M. Nixon in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Secretary Brucker then presented the flag to the US Army Chief of Staff, General Maxwell Taylor.
Members of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Color Guard were (unreadable) Robert C. Spott, Sergeant First Class Eugene Mills, Specialist 3rd Class William B. Kennedy and Private William P. Madden.
45 Years Ago Today
On June 1, 1973, “Black Jack” retired from active service with the U.S. Army. Black Jack came to the Old Guard on November 22, 1952, serving as a caparisoned (riderless) horse for 21 years. Black Jack took part in the State Funerals for John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Douglas MacArthur, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Black Jack also honored thousands of service members in final honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Even after Black Jack retired, he greeted visitors to the stables until his passing on February 6, 1976. Black Jack was laid to rest with full honors, on a corner of Summerall Field near the Fort Myer flag pole.
Sixty Years Ago
On May 30, 1958, the World War II and Korean War Unknowns were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. This unique double State Funeral. At 1 PM, the body bearers began transferring their remains out of the Capitol Rotunda to the Caissons awaiting them for transport. The side-by-side Caissons, along with the processional escort, would solemnly take them to the amphitheater for their funeral service, and then to the plaza for their interment.
See photos of the entire Washington, DC portion of the funeral here:
A full narrative of the ceremony can be read here:
Thirty-four years ago today.
On May 28, 1984, the nation honored the Vietnam Unknown with a State Funeral Ceremony and interment at the Tomb of the Unknown. President Reagan acted at the Unknown’s next of kin and received the honors rendered to the Unknown. The State Funeral was part of the Memorial Day observance ceremonies that year.
In the following years, some contended that the Vietnam Unknown’s identity was not “known but to God.” Support grew for attempting to identify the Unknown. On May 14, 1998, the Vietnam Unknown was exhumed. DNA testing confirmed the Unknown was Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie. After his identification, 1LT Blassie was re-interred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.
The crypt today stands empty as a memorial to all service members who did not return home from Vietnam. The inscription now reads, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen 1958-1975.”
This Photo Friday does not going back as far as recent posts, but should stir up memories. On April 30, it will mark 10 years since the U.S. Army phased out the Woodland Camouflage pattern and the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). The Woodland pattern was first issued in 1981. The Woodland pattern and BDU were replaced by the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), which became the mandatory on May 1, 2008 and featured the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP).