JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Soldiers assigned to the Presidential Salute Battery (PSB), 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), have altered daily operations to ensure the safety of Soldiers and maintain operational readiness during COVID-19.
The PSB’s primary mission is to render honors to the president of the United States and foreign dignitaries visiting the United States, as well as honoring fallen general officers during funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, by firing cannon salutes.
“As of now, all ceremonial missions have been canceled until further notice,” said 1st Lt. Cody Becker, platoon leader with the PSB. “However, we are continuing to clean our cannons to ensure we maintain readiness once ceremonial missions begin to come down.”
The platoon is now operating in a three-section rotation, compared to their typical all hands on deck approach.
“Currently we have switched to, as we refer to in the mortar world, three operating sections,” said Becker. “This will limit the interactions between the Soldiers. We are also practicing the six-foot distance advised by regiment, to decrease the chance of possible contamination from Soldier to Soldier.”
The different sections are now required to sanitize their work areas daily, in addition to their normal duties.
Utilizing this operational approach requires trust in the junior enlisted Soldiers, said Becker.
Trust in the junior enlisted leaders is imperative in times like these, according to Becker. He has faith in these leaders to hold their Soldiers accountable and carry out the standards in accordance with the guidance put out by higher headquarters and the CDC.
The changes have been met with a positive response, but have required some getting used to, according to one Soldier.
“For me, the biggest change has been not working as a platoon,” said Pfc. Joshua Peacock, an indirect fire infantryman with the PSB. “We are a close-knit platoon, it’s just different not seeing everyone every day. It’s working, but I’d like to get back to our normal routine as soon as we can.”