By Mrs. Debra Preitkis (JFHQNCR/MDW)March 4, 2010
Timing is everything.
On Friday, February 19, 2010, two Soldier-brothers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) made history.
It happened while many of us were getting ready for work.
It happened as the sun was rising over the sacred grounds, at Arlington National Cemetery
And it happened in front of friends and family.
On this day, Spc. Mathew Brisiel and his brother, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Brisiel, became the first brothers to serve as Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknowns at the same time.
Mathew Brisiel joined his brother in receiving the honored Tomb Badge. During the ceremony, Brisiel repeated the Sentinel's Creed - which is something all Sentinels strive to live by. Brother Jonathan then attached Tomb Badge # 578 on younger brother Mathew's uniform. With these two moves, these 'brothers-in-arms' made it into the history books.
Col. David P. Anders, commander of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) said the Tomb Badge changes a Soldier's life forever. "It's just so rare. It's the rarest Army badge. There have only been 578 ever issued."
Brisiel noted the significance of not only being a Tomb Sentinel, but also receiving the badge, "To have my brother in the platoon and to have this opportunity to represent the Unknowns, it's a true privilege and a true honor. I look forward to the rest of my tour with the rest of the platoon."
The Sentinels guard the Tomb of the Unknowns 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year, and in any weather. To be a Tomb Sentinel, each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall.
Anders reiterated the importance of the ceremony and the badge, which may then be worn for the rest of one's military career, "The process is extremely hard and it shapes the rest of their time in the Old Guard. You can know that you can count on that non-commissioned officer for anything you asked them to do."
The Brisiel brothers guard the Tomb of the Unknowns on the grounds where not only former Presidents, Supreme Court Justices and members of the military are buried, but where their grandfather is buried as well. Their mother flew in from Spring, Texas for this historic event. With a big smile and a tear in her eye, Cathy Brisiel said she was more than proud. "When Jon got his badge three years ago, I thought my heart would fall out of the floor. Then when Mat got assigned, I was like... are you kidding me' I am very proud."