Old Guard leads the way for Inaugural Parade
January 28, 2009
- About 700 Old Guard Soldiers participated in the inauguration, along with men and women of other services.
- Despite the low temperatures outside, spirits of the Soldiers were high as they marched down Pennsylvania Ave.
Soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participated in almost every aspect of the 56th Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama in Washington D.C. The Old Guard has marched as the official "Escort to the President" since the 1953 inaugural parade of President Eisenhower after President Truman designated them the title in 1952. About 700 Old Guard Soldiers participated in the inauguration, along with men and women of other services. Participating were Soldiers of the U.S. Armed Forces Joint Color Guard, the Presidential Salute Battery, Honor Guard Company, the Commander-in-Chief\'s Guard, and the Fife and Drum Corps. Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Old Guard Soldiers escorted VIPs to their seats on the west lawn of the Capitol. "The experience was more than I ever expected. It was a great honor to seat Medal of Honor recipients," said Spc. Neil A. Farver, a member of The United States Army Drill Team, 4th Battalion, who was among the 51 Soldiers selected to be an usher. "This was the most honorable thing I have done out of my three years here in the Old Guard." Following Obama's last words of swearing in, "So help me God," the highest military honor of 21 rounds from WWII vintage anti-tank guns echoed throughout the Mall in honor of the new President. The Presidential Salute Battery fired off President Obama's first 21-gun salute at Taft Park, said Staff Sgt. Andrew D. Grenawalt, a backup gunner for Obama's Inauguration. Grenawalt said he was honored to have been a part of this Inauguration along with George W. Bush's 2004 inauguration and the arrivals of the Pope and the Queen of England. Honor Guard Company, the marching element of the inaugural parade, spent the first weeks of the year training rigorously for the monumental event. "To prepare for the inauguration, we rehearsed Monday through Friday for three consecutive weeks-- rain, sleet and no shine," said Spc. Bruce D. Levenhagen, a marcher from Honor Guard Company. Despite the low temperatures outside, spirits of the Soldiers were high as they marched down Pennsylvania Ave. "The repetitive practicing made me numb to what we were doing until we started marching in front of millions of people. It was then that I realized what an honor it was to be a part of this," said Levenhagen. Company D, 1st Battalion, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, represented the Army Cordon that lined both sides of 15th Street in the parade. They were dressed in their dress blues uniform by 2:30 a.m., standing along the street for seven hours. "It was freezing but an honor to be a part of this historic event, said Spc. Peter A. Chojnowski, an Army cordon from Company D. The crowd was a wonderful turnout and the pageantry was great." Soldiers of Company D returned home 20 hours after their report time at 10 p.m. Tuesday night. They reported back to Fort Myer at 6:00 a.m. the next morning to fulfill another ceremonial duty, rendering honors at funerals of heroes in Arlington National Cemetery. The Old Guard will continue to showcase their ceremonial skills in a variety of missions including the upcoming celebration of the presidency with performances by The Fife and Drum Corps and Commander-in-Chief's Guard on Presidents' Day at Mount Vernon.