Joint Base Lewis-McChord Community
Donated Coffee Keeps Old Guard on Marks as Polar Vortex Descends
Story by MAJ Stephen Von Jett on 02/26/2019
JOINT BASE MYER HENDERSON HALL, VIRGINIA This past week brought freezing temperatures and bitter winds to the men and women of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) as they stood their marks both here and in Arlington National Cemetery.
The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is tasked to provide memorial affairs to our nation’s fallen, ceremonial support to the national capital region, and when necessary defend the capital. The Old Guard does this all with the exacting standards approaching perfection that is the calling card of the regiment.
With temperatures in the single digits, and the real-feel well below zero, maintaining that level of commitment was no small feat. Soldiers of The Old Guard are well equipped to brace against the elements. Their ceremonial training and discipline provides the necessary composure to face harsh conditions, but after more than an hour in the bitter cold a warm cup of coffee can go a long way toward thawing things out.
A select group of Old Guard Soldiers have the distinct honor of guarding our nation’s most sacred shrine. The Tomb Sentinels have kept their vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 81 years and counting. Every second, of every minute, of every day. Staff Sgt. Aaron Privett is a Tomb Sentinel and is no stranger to the cold.
“I rely on coffee daily. Before I go out the door, a cup of joe keeps my throat clear and my commands loud,” Privett said. “This past week, when the cold was just ridiculous, I’d use a cup just to help warm my numb hands after the hour shift. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the donation.”
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier isn’t the only duty location in The Old Guard where wind and weather do their best to wear a Soldier down. In 1st Battalion, the Soldiers honor the fallen and share the Army’s commitment to our Gold Star Families by the myriad funeral services they conduct daily. When temperatures fall too cold, the beloved horses of the Caisson Platoon are kept in their stable for safety, but Soldiers bundle into their warmest gear and continue what is The Old Guard’s most important mission.
Sgt. Brady Buchanan, a member of the Presidential Salute Battery, knows how important a warm drink can be after a frigid morning.
“We were on mission early in the morning on one of the coldest days of the polar vortex,” Buchanan said. “As soon as we got back it was a sprint to the coffee maker.”
The coffee was donated to The Old Guard by Holy Joe’s Caf, a not for profit outreach organization that supports the chaplaincy with coffee products. Since 2006, the group has been donating coffee to U.S. service members around the world. Chaplain (Maj.) Luis Garayua, regimental chaplain for The Old Guard, shared how much these donations mean to the Soldiers here.
“The Old Guard is such a unique organization with a very important mission. Soldiers here give it their all, and I know that a warm cup of coffee has a way of lifting their spirits,” Garayua said. “I’ve worked with Holy Joe’s before. When I reached out and shared what The Old Guard does, Holy Joe’s sent seven pallets of coffee. Just amazing.”