Recent events bring to mind whether The Old Guard has ever been called out in support of civil authorities—to help defend government property or quell domestic disturbances. Here is a brief overview. Thanks to OldGuardHistory.com for much of the information below. For more, follow the links provided and visit the OldGuardHistory.com blog.
In 1877, during the Great Railroad Strike, President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered Federal troops to assist. The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, stationed at that time in Louisiana, was called in to help quiet down riots in affected areas of Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. The Federal actions taken during the Railroad Strike led to passage in the following year of the Posse Comitatus Act, which specifically forbade the Army from enforcing domestic policy. (see Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and Posse Comitatus Act)
During the 1967 “March on the Pentagon,” the 3d Infantry was part of a defense force organized to control demonstrations against the war in Vietnam in Washington D.C. Apparently, elements of The Old Guard were specifically assigned to the White House and Capitol, but it is not clear whether they were deployed or only placed on alert. As an incidental note, the Army Chief of Staff at the time was General Harold K. Johnson, a former member of the Old Guard. He was a 2LT in the Regiment in 1917, and was a Bataan Death March survivor in World War II. (see National Mobilization Committee)
The 1968 riots in Washington following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. precipitated deployment of some Old Guard companies into the streets of Washington for riot control. (see 1968 Riots)
Finally, The Old Guard was deployed in response to the 1971 May Day demonstrations in Washington, D.C. based on its mission of defense of the White House. Nearly the entire battalion was transported to the Treasury Building, adjacent to the White House, for more than 24 hours waiting for a possible call to action. (see 1971 May Day Protests)
Attention, all former Old Guard members! Please comment below and share your own recollections and photos of the events mentioned above or other times when The Old Guard was called out to support civil authorities. Thanks!
I was there for the May 1971 protest. I believe the battalion was split between the Treasury building and the Executive building. We spent the weekend in the basement with weapons, gas masks and were ready to go if needed. The DC police had buses lined around the outside of the White House fences. If the demonstrators got over them it would have been “fix bayonets”. Fortunately the demonstrators didn’t make it on the White House grounds. We went back to Ft. Myer.
I was there in 1971 stationed in the EOB. I remember we were assembled one day in the courtyard of the building and were ready to be deployed to the White House grounds if needed. Thankfully we were directed to stand down. We returned to Ft. Myer after a couple of days. I do remember a lady asked a couple of us roaming the halls if we would like to look into the Vice Presidents office which we did, thought it was cool.
Great post to the BLOG. I’d like to see comments from others who had similar experiences.
I was there in 1971 stationed in the EOB. I remember we were assembled one day in the courtyard of the building and were ready to be deployed to the White House grounds if needed. Thankfully we were directed to stand down. We returned to Ft. Myer after a couple of days. I do remember a lady asked a couple of us roaming the halls if we would like to look into the Vice Presidents office which we did, thought it was cool
I was with TOG in 1969 when the “Great Moratorium” took place. Charlie Guard, with the regiment, deployed to the EOB and was ready to deploy to the White House. The DC police lined the WH grounds with buses and were ordered to use deadly force if the crowd went over the buses onto the WH grounds. While there were some riots up in the Georgetown area, most of the thousands of protestors just wanted to lay out, smoke pot, and have sex on the Mall. We were deployed for the entire weekend. I was fairly new to Charlie, so I spent most of that time back at the barracks as CQ runner and manned the phones at night. It was cool to participate in such an historic event. The Regimental Commander urged us to use maximum restraint and cause no incidents because we would be on television and that might embarrass the Army and the Regiment.
In August 1963 for the Martin Luther King “ Million March In” at the Lincoln Memorial the Old Guard was on Full Alert ready to go if necessary. The 82 and the 101st were on Full alert in the DC area. I was in Alpha Co sitting in a Huey loaded with ammo on the the Parade Field at Ft McNair. Alpha Co , quartered at Ft. McNair primary mission was protection of the White House. The mission for the Aug 63 March In was signed off by POTUS JFK.
TOGA Past President
I left TOG for Vietnam in July 1967 and subsequently received a letter from Col. Conmy telling me that they had deployed troops around the Pentagon to confront the rioters. He went into detail on how the troops had been taunted.
I served 64′ to 67′ HQ Co. and the 3d was on alert and ready to move if necessary, in 67′ There was no respect for people in uniform !!! I saw two guys try to take the flag from the color guard but stop when the bayonets crossed in front of them.
I served in TOG from 1962-63 during the Cuban missile crisis and ML King’s Freedom March. We trained for 2 weeks, as I recall, in crowd control tactics prior to the event. On the day of the event, the entire Battalion was loaded onto deuce-and-a-half trucks strung with chicken wire to protect the troops from airborne objects, waiting for the order to move out. We were armed with our M-1 rifles and chrome bayonets but ammo was under control of the NCOs, armorers and supply clerks (I was supply clerk of HHQ Company at the time). Everybody was nervously wondering how a battalion of troops was going to control several hundred thousand angry Americans. Thankfully it turned out peacefully and we all went back to our regular ceremonial duties. The event was carried out flawlessly as usual except for spillage of some tear gas in the supply room of one of the line companies causing the barracks to be abandoned for a short period of time…. that is all….PFC Paul Ott out.
Having served D co. TOG in the early 70s we were drployed to the the EOB ( now the old executive office building) mid April 1971 for the Vietnam Venterns against the war demonstrations. Bussed in the middle of the night on tour busses (early stealth).
Spent days building a ship in a bottle on the very hard floors . Soon afterwards we were again deployed to the treasury for Mayday demonstrations. More than pleased it ended peacefully.
Tumultuous times that we seem to be reliving
Noli Me Tangere
I was in Company E ( Honor Guard) in 1967 during the unrest in Washington. We were on alert and restricted to the Fort. We were never deployed. Word always was that we would be the last guys they called.
I was in Bravo Company in 1973, during the second inauguration of Richard Nixon. Fearing anti-Vietnam riots, we were issued riot gear (face masks and shields, as I recall) and undertook some training on facing a hostile crowd. We deployed to the Old Executive Office Building (connected by a tunnel to the White House), prepared to be the last line of defense on the White House Lawn. It was a tense time, and we did not relish the prospect of facing off against our own civilians. Luckily, the demonstrations were largely peaceful, and we did not have to take action. Troubled times indeed. Today’s turmoil is the worst we’ve seen since then, in my opinion.
Having previously served in Vietnam with C / 4 / 3 TOG at LZ Bronco & FSB San Juan Hill, I also served in D / 1 / 3 TOG at Ft Myer. We were deployed to the Executive Office Building (EOB) on the 1st Floor, East Side facing the WH, in mid-April 1971 for the “Vietnam Veterans against the War” demonstrations. They were bussed in the middle of the night to make their grand entrance the following morning. Just after we arrived in the EOB and set up our sleeping positions in the hallway, for some reason everyone had to attend a briefing in the basement and I was selected to stay behind and guard the weapons. I was sitting on the floor sharpening my bayonet, when I noticed a pair of pin-striped pants standing about six feet from me. Normally, anyone walking through would not stop, but this person did. When I looked up and recognized the man standing there, I jumped to attention. saluted and said “Good Morning Mr. Vice President!” He smiled and asked me what I was doing. I said that I was just sharpening my bayonet, getting ready for the demonstrations to start. He looked around and then with a whisper said, “stick one of those SOBs for me if you can!” What could I say except “Yes Sir!” As he was walking away, an officer who I just do not remember his name, came running up to me and asked me what I had said to the Vice President? I said I told him “Good Morning, Sir.” He then asked what the VP had said to me. So I told him and he sputtered as he said “the VP was just kidding with you.” At that time I did not think that VP Spiro T. Agnew kidded about anything. Later on I had to repeat the whole conversation to the Battalion XO who just laughed. Our Platoon did get to go outside and practice on a deserted street and then back to the barracks we went. We deployed to the EOB again in May for the “May Day Group.” Both times I thought we would get a chance to let the demonstrators see the difference between the National Guard (NG) troops and the Old Guard. We had heard that some of the demonstrators had walked up and grabbed the fixed bayonets of the NG troops and tried to pull them off. My squad, I know for sure you did not want to grab our bayonets and give them a yank cause you could lose a finger or two. I was lucky enough to get to walk in the underground tunnel system from the EOB to the Treasury building. I also got to see the locations were the EOB had several anti-aircraft gun emplacements on its roof during WWII. The top floor of the EOB had an excellent view of the sidewalk between the busses and the WH Fence. Having those busses around the WH was a very effective barrier. Just before Memorial Day, we were deployed at night in the Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) because kids from George Washington University, American University & Georgetown University (possibly other non-university kids as well) were coming into ANC and taking Flags, knocking over headstones and other petty things that ignorant people do when mob mentality takes over. We did catch two kids doing the humpty-bumpty in the bushes. They had stolen an American Flag and was using it for a ground cloth. We turned the kids over to the MPs and handed the Flag in for proper disposal. Other than that, our Spring & Summer of ’71 was uneventful.
Thank you for the post. These are my recollections, almost exactly. I was a platoon leader in Honor Guard and our company was located in the EOB as well. During the afternoon, our company was positioned in the basement (or lower level) corridor waiting to be deployed to the South Lawn of the White House. We were all sitting on our steel pots along the corridor. I was positioned close to an elevator. When suddenly the elevator door opened and out stepped President Nixon and a small group of folks. I called our troops to attention. He quickly asked us to remain seated. He spoke with us briefly about the demonstrators and thanked us for the roles we were playing. Then he said, “would anyone like to see my dog do tricks?” Hell yes!! He had a beautiful Irish Setter dog with him. He commanded the dog to sit! Nothing!! He commanded the dog to lay down! Nothing! He looked at us and shrugged and then turned to a fellow who appeared to be an assistant. The gentleman commanded the dog to sit in Spanish. The dog sat! He commanded the dog to lay down in Spanish. The dog responded. President Nixon looked at us and said, “How do you like that, here I’m President of the United States and can’t even tell my own dog what to do!!” We all laughed! He went on to explain that the beautiful dog was a gift from the Brazilian Embassy and could only understand Spanish! He lightened up our situation immensely and on that day he became a real person to me! I had two wonderful years in Honor Guard Company from 1970-72 first as a platoon leader and later as the XO. In the later role I was the Commander of the Guard at the TUS. An experience that has been a highlight of my life. Old Guard, Piss In Your Shoe!!
ILt Thompson,I was PSG of the 2d platoon when you were here. Broke my arm in a softball game against Charlie company. I still have a copy of your game line-up you did. Great to hear from you. Just turned 79
SFC Phillips…….It is so good to hear you are doing well!! You were my first Platoon Sergeant and you were the gold standard for all that followed. Honestly, no one could measure up to your standard! And I too recall the evening during the softball game when you broke your arm. What a sad evening that was! And Ralph, I’m 74 this year. Thank you for being the BEST……Period!! Jim
Frank, I was with Charlie during those times. You summed up nicely just what we went through at that time. I was in Charlie 1969-71, second platoon.
Sorry to be off topic, anyone know have contact with CPT Richardson or 1LT Stevenson of E Co., 1979?
R. Jaques US Army Drill Team 1979
Hi Randall, I am TOGA Quartermaster. I was in E Company, 2nd Plt. in 1975-1979. CPT Richardson pasted away. I don’t have any infor on 1LT Stevenson. Hope this helped you. Have you by chance jointed the TOGA ?
hello my fellow old guard veterans i just joined the TOGA yesterday i was searching for an old guard magnet online when i found out about TOGA I served during the 80’s company B i was there when the space shuttle challenger tragedy happened I remember watching it on tv making bad joke about how we would be working this weekend all 7 astronauts were buried at the memorial i was there sad i was also there for the filming of the oliver stone movie gardens of stone about arlington during vietnam I remember pressing my blues in the basement with the pins on the seams and sucking up my guts while i got all taped up before i put on jacket and belt and how my girlfriend was pissed because she wanted to go to georgetown and party instead of me playing movie star we used park at the bottom of the exorcist steps then head down to the college bars get free drinks because i was army back in the day it was dont ask dont tell what the hell is going on with military leaders today paying men to become women lgbt whatever my son did 2 tours in iraq he joined being proud of army i did basic at benning sand hill got sent to old gaurd because i’m 6ft 5in tall anyway i dont do facebook or twitter or any of that crap so i was hoping to here any opinion from my fellow old guard vets why is there no more respect for the lord jesus christ and our country and military lets go brandon !! one last thing I found my old guard coin my original one with name on back last thing i have from those days i have never shared these memories with anyone your comments are welcome god bless PFC michael clark