Greetings Fellow Old Guardsmen:
As my year as President of The Old Guard Association draws to a close, I want to thank each and every one of you for the privilege of entrusting me with the leadership of our outstanding organization and I also must thank all the many members who attended our 21st Annual Reunion at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia. Once again this year, we enjoyed a very successful, memorable and fun-filled four days doing all the things, and more, that our members have come to expect from their Association.
Our banquet on Saturday evening was attended by almost three hundred people and our guest keynote speaker was our own Brett Reistad, former President of the Association, longtime Membership Chairman, and now the National Commander of the American Legion. In his remarks, Brett was proud to relate that his many years of public service to both the Fairfax County Police Department were inspired by his assignment to the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) when he was just a young man. Brett spoke eloquently about the close ties between the Legion and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a concept which was conceived by the American Legion after the end of World War I.
Obviously, the leadership of our Association is not a one-man operation and I would be remiss if I did not thank the other Directors and our very dedicated and talented staff members for their support and ongoing contributions to the success and growth of our fraternity of former Old Guard soldiers. Here are just a few of the highlights of this year in the life of our Association:
- Supported and helped fund the creation and dedication of The Old Guard Monument now erected next to the Old Town Hall and adjacent to Summerall Field. Special thanks to former RCO Col(R) Jim Laufenberg.
- Attended the Change of Command Ceremony to bid Colonel Garkey and CSM Beeson farewell and to welcome incoming Colonel James Tuite and CSM Edwin Brooks.
- Planned and contracted for a new and improved website to meet the growing needs of our 1150 members.
- Dave Barrow organized a charity golf tournament which raised $3500 to benefit the active duty soldiers during this upcoming holiday season.
- Added about ten new and innovative items to the Quartermaster store for purchase. “America’s Regiment” logoed golf shirt now available.
- Awarded Life Memberships for the first time to this year’s NCO and Soldier of the Year (now to be called Best Warrior) at the Saturday evening banquet.
- Updated three of the Association’s bylaws to correct past omissions or oversights.
- Enrolled more than 70 new members so far this year.
- Increased the net worth of the Association by more than 25%.
- Secured a new benefit for our members through a partnership with Tickets at Work. Get discounted prices for movies, theme parks, hotels and tours by signing up at ticketsatwork.com and use company code, The Old Guard.
With just two months spent in his new position as RCO, Colonel Tuite and his entire team went above and beyond during the Reunion to provide a full complement of Regimental support for all of our scheduled Friday events in Arlington National Cemetery, at the new Old Guard Monument, in Conmy Hall and, of course, during “Lunch with the Troops”.
As usual on Friday we had a busy day. It began early with a wreath-laying at the Old Guard Memorial located adjacent to the Amphitheater followed by an Army Full Honors wreath-laying at the Tomb placed by Guest of Honor Brett Reistad and myself and graciously hosted by Colonel Tuite. We then traveled back to Fort Myer for another wreath-laying at the newly dedicated Old Guard Monument followed by a Class A Pass-in-Review in which our members are honored and privileged to march with the young soldiers currently “standing in our shoes”. The entire group of attendees was then transported to the “mess hall”, now called a Dining Facility (DFAC), for an enjoyable, delicious and interactive Lunch with the Troops while we listened to music played by a combo from the US Army Band. Thank you to everyone involved, especially the soldiers of the Regiment, for making this special day possible.
Colonel Tuite also arranged for all of the Company barracks to be opened so that anyone wishing to do so could visit their old stomping grounds and he also prevailed upon The Old Guard Lounge (in the basement of the Officer’s Club) to remain open beyond the normal hours so that our members could satisfy their thirst while viewing the historical mementos displayed throughout the Lounge.
At the banquet on Saturday evening, the Association was proud to present two bronze statuettes carved in the self-images of NCO of the Year Staff Sergeant Kenwyn H. Peters and Soldier of the Year Specialist Gavin R. Artis. And for the first time, the Association was pleased to award Life Memberships to both SSG Peters and SPC Artis. Welcome aboard gentlemen. Congratulations and well done to these talented and sharp-looking Old Guardsmen. The statuettes were generously donated by Life Member Neil Brodin. Also during the banquet, another larger statue cast in the likeness of former Director and Past President Dave Nelson, again donated by Neil Brodin, was presented by Colonel Garkey and myself to Dave’s widow Joyce and his two sons, Dave Jr. and Gerard.
We were also fortunate to welcome as our special guest Brian Cordell, son of late Director and Treasurer Billy Cordell. In memory of his father, Brian was presented with an American Flag which had flown over the U.S. Capitol. The flag was secured and donated by Charlie Pringle. Finally, Colonel Tuite and I were pleased to be part of the ceremony awarding American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad the National Infantry Association Order of Saint Maurice in recognition of his support of Infantry soldiers across the nation.
On Thursday, thanks to Mike Holub’s thoughtful planning, 53 members and family enjoyed a short bus ride to visit and participate in an informative tour of the U.S. Capitol in downtown DC. After lunch in the Capitol dining room, the tour moved onto a self-guided tour of the fascinating and educational Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue just in time to beat the rain which had been threatening all day. I also owe a special round of thanks to all of the ladies, especially Gail Barrow, Debbie Forsburg, and Lisa Stender, who volunteered and devoted their time and talents to ensure that everyone was well fed, had plenty of liquid refreshment, and enjoyed the beautiful decorations at the banquet.
On Saturday morning while the members discussed the business of the Association, the ladies enjoyed another creative “tea” that was themed around Chinese culture. Each lady attending was asked to dress in an outfit befitting the mysterious Orient and they all looked beautiful. The food was fantastic and the men missed out again. All of this comes from the inventive mind and hard work of Lisa Stender and all of those who helped her.. I would like to personally thank Lisa and all the supporting cast of ladies who once again made this event so successful.
Finally, I want to offer my thanks and the gratitude of all the members of The Old Guard Association to Karin Markert for the time she devotes and dedication she exhibits in preparing one of the finest Newsletters in any military organization. I know we all look forward to the latest edition of our PRIDE and Karin’s the key to making that possible.
Our Membership Coordinator is Mike Winter. You can reach out to him anytime you have a question about your membership status or your dues requirements. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our new 2019 Board of Directors and Staff is shown in the Orderly Room section elsewhere in this edition of PRIDE and will be on our website by the end of the year. I want to congratulate Flip Godfrey who was unanimously elected our 2019 President. I know he will do a first-class job based on all the support and help he provided me this year. I encourage you to begin your planning to attend next year’s reunion, our 22nd, which will be held from September 25th through the 29th. We expect a sellout crowd and I hope to see you all there.
I wish you all a very joyous and blessed holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.