Few Soldiers have the honor of wearing The Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge, the second least awarded badge in the U.S. Army, after the Astronaut Badge. Even smaller is the number of military police who have earned the prestigious badge. On Aug. 30, Sgt. Erik McGuire became the first MP in 11 years to earn this right.
"It's just a great honor to represent [the MP Corps, myself] and the whole Army," said McGuire, Tomb Sentinel, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
The Tomb, which holds unidentified remains of Soldiers from World War I, World War II and the Korean War, is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all weather conditions at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
In order to earn the right to be called a Tomb Sentinel, candidates must pass a series of five tests which can take up to nine months. These tests consist of outside performances, uniform inspection, and the history of the Army, Arlington National Cemetery and The Tomb.
"It's very stressful and tiring," said McGuire. "It's probably the roughest training I've ever been through but I just kept on going with the support of my family."
McGuire's family drove from Birmingham, Ala., to share in his moment. His wife was honored with pinning the badge on him.
"I'm extremely proud of him," said his wife, Miranda. "He has worked very hard for this. I've seen him stay up long nights and dedicate almost everything. All of his accomplishments are wonderful, but this is probably the best one."
It can be revoked even after a servicemember leaves the Army if he or she brings discredit to the Tomb. McGuire said the additional principles he learned at the Tomb will assist him in upholding these high standards.
"I'm glad to have this duty of guarding the Unknowns," said McGuire. "The Army helped me be a better person and a better man, but coming to the Tomb instilled those values a little more."
McGuire is the 603rd Soldier to receive the badge since it was first issued in 1958.