Maintaining The Old Guard
June 24, 2011
If it shoots, drives, needs a fresh coat of paint, or is fixable, Soldiers of the 529th Regimental Support Company motor pool, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), are not far behind.
The 38 Soldier team services more than 150 vehicles, 2,400 weapons and is responsible for the calibration of all Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and electronic equipment for more than 1,500 Soldiers.
Outside of maintenance, it also houses the Army’s only fully functional paint shop run by Soldiers who must be certified in the different types of paints they use and pass Occupational Safety and Health Standards upon inspection.
As the Army’s oldest active Infantry Regiment, Sgt. 1st. Class Darvin Graham, 529th Reg. Support Co. platoon sergeant, said maintaining some of the equipment in The Old Guard is sometimes tough.
“Those guns are old,” said Graham, referring to the World War II vintage anti-tank guns used by The Old Guard Presidential Salute Battery. “For them to still be able to fire and be functional today is a challenge.”
The distinguished reputation of the regiment keeps Soldiers in the motor pool on their toes as Soldiers are expected to fix equipment unique only to The Old Guard.
“Everybody expects more from us,” said Graham. “It takes a little bit more to take the caisson [casket] apart or take the guns apart and put them back together.”
Although sometimes challenging, Graham said it’s still a gratifying job for him and his Soldiers.
“It’s rewarding because we know we are keeping a part of history alive.” said Graham.
As the Army's premiere ceremonial unit, Soldiers in the motor pool also have the chance to participate in ceremonial missions, such as funeral details or escorts, outside of their day to day jobs.
Spc. Matthew Douglass, 529th Reg. Support Co. generator mechanic, said he enjoys this aspect of The Old Guard and knows this is the only motor pool in the Army where he will have this opportunity.
“We are not just responsible for maintenance of vehicles, but everything in this regiment,” said Cpl. Shaun Brown, 529th Reg. Support Co. mechanic.
Brown said the noncommissioned officers in the motor pool take great pride in their additional duties and count it a privilege to participate in one of The Old Guard’s most solemn missions, laying the fallen to rest.
“Some of us have passed the U.S. flag draped on the servicemember’s coffin to their Families,” said Brown.
Whether working hard in their perspective jobs or participating in a ceremony, one thing is for certain.
“Nothing moves and nothing functions without us,” said Graham.