November 19, 2021
One of the many important things accomplished at the Annual General Meeting of TOGA was the election of the 2022 Board of Directors. I’m pleased to announce them here. I’m totally confident that this great group of experienced and committed volunteers will lead us to bigger and better things in 2022. Here they are –
- President – Joe Buche COL (R) and former RCO
- VP – Jeff Stitzel CSM (R) and former RSM
- Secretary – Michael Brock LTC (R)
- Treasurer – Ralph Jones
- Directors –
- Dave Book
- Marty Cassidy
- Nelson Forsburg
- Ray Stender
- Tyler Willbanks
- Mike Winter
Please join me in congratulating the 2022 TOGA Board of Directors. They will take over on January 1st.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank PRIDE Editor Karin Markert for her many years of service to TOGA. She is stepping down and will be sorely missed. Please contact me or any of the Directors if you know of someone who might be willing to serve as our editor of the newsletter. We need to fill this slot as soon as possible.
Flip Godfrey, President
12 November 2021
Dear Members and Friends,
I want to take a minute to recognize and commend all those who played a part in the planning and execution of the Centennial of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The significance of this undertaking cannot be overstated. I am in awe of how the planners pulled together the educational, visual, virtual and participation aspects of the celebration. It was so much more than a joint force ceremony. It not only provided opportunities for local, state and national involvement, it reached out and pulled in our long-time allies in Europe who played a major role 100 years ago and ever since.
I can’t possibly name all those who were involved but I know the following people were among those instrumental in the planning and execution – Regimental Commanding Officer COL Patrick Roddy – Former RCO COL (R) Jim Laufenberg – Former RCO and current TOGA Director COL (R) Joe Buche – Sentinel and DMOR SGM (R) Gavin McIlvenna. I know they worked on this for almost two years. I’m happy for them that it was a beautiful day in Arlington National Cemetery where the world was able to tune in and share in this important moment in history that apparently went off without a hitch.
This has to go down as one of The Old Guards’ very special moments. Congratulations to all who played a part!
Philip “Flip” Godfrey, President
As the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier arrives next week, we are pleased to be able to share another work of art that has been created especially for this celebration.
In honor of the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the Tomb, the Arlington, Virginia-based opera company UrbanArias has commissioned two outstanding Americans to create music and poetry for a new set of songs, called UNKNOWN. The touching and poignant poems are by Marcus Amaker, the Poet Laureate of Charleston, SC. The music is by the award-winning composer Shawn Okpebholo, the Vanguard Opera Composer at Chicago Opera Theater.
UrbanArias has joined forces with arts organizations from across the United States – including Opera Colorado, Opera Birmingham, The Dallas Opera, Minnesota Opera, and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts – to create a spectacular and dramatic film of the world premiere performance of these songs. The film of UNKNOWN will premiere online on November 11, 2021, commemorating both Veterans Day and the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and will be available free of charge for one month. Register to view the film at urbanarias.org
Watch a trailer for the film here:
Read Marcus Amaker’s poetry here:
Unknown Poems (urbanarias.org)
Read Shawn Okpebholo’s notes about writing Unknown here:
Those of you who will be attending the SHGTUS Reunion and Centenary activities the week of November 8-13 will have the chance to attend the film premiere screening. For more information, go to UNKNOWN Film Premiere Registration
Please spread the word among your networks of colleagues, family, and friends about this beautiful short film.
President & Public Affairs Chair
Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS)
“Soldiers never die until they are forgotten, Tomb Guards never forget”
Dear Members and Friends,
I’m happy to report that the TOGA Board of Directors met in Arlington, VA on October 29th and 30th for a couple of important reasons. It felt great to be back on post after a long hiatus due to COVID restrictions. I want to thank Regimental Commander COL Patrick Roddy for all the help we received. I’ll give you a short recap of what happened while we were there.
On Friday the 29th we started the morning by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and also a wreath at the TOGA memorial stone adjacent to the amphitheater there. A nor’easter was in full blow with a drenching rain and wind. It reminded us of how we all stood the marks back in the day. From there we moved to Charlie Guard where we presented the company with a table tennis table and equipment for their day room. This donation was made possible by a generous gift from the family of a fallen hero who was escorted to his final resting place in ANC by Charlie Guard. The family members actually attended the presentation. It was a special time for sure. From there we move to Conmy Hall where we recognized the achievements of several Soldiers and made some special presentations.
We first recognized the 2021 Best Warrior Soldier, SPC Little; Best Warrior NCO SSG Saavedra and Best Medic SGT Biggerstaff. Next was a presentation of the first-ever TOGA Educational Assistance $1,000 Scholarships. The winners were selected by a committee from essays submitted to TOGA. The recipients were 1LT Robert Moretz, SSG TaWei Chen and SSG Bailey Pogue. Next, we presented 55 solid brass buckles to the Caisson Platoon. These are given to graduates of the Military Basic Horsemanship Course. TOGA initiated this program several years ago. It is 100% funded now by Caisson Platoon alumni. TOGA holds the funds until more buckles are needed. Of special note, the Regiment named Marty Cassidy and Tyler Willbanks as “Distinguished Members of the Regiment”. A tremendous honor for both who have demonstrated an extraordinary level of support to the Regiment. Congratulations to Marty and Tyler! Well deserved. We closed out the ceremonies with presentations to COL Roddy and RSM Whittington. You can click on this link to see photos of the various activities and presentations – The Old Guard Association, October 29, 2021
On Saturday the 30th we conducted the first Annual General Meeting of the Association on a virtual platform. It was a bit of a challenge to get it set up because it was our first time but I have to say, I think it went off very well. We were able to elect the Directors for 2022 and conduct the other business of the Association. I encourage you to participate in the future.
I hope you enjoy the pictures of the activities. Know that COL Roddy and many other officers, NCOs and Soldiers told us how much they appreciated the support. These things are made possible because of you, the members and friends of TOGA. We could not do it without you. Please continue to help us by recruiting your friends to join TOGA. Share this information with them as an example of what we do. Thank you!
Flip Godfrey, President