I am a color guard and have done over 300 funerals in the Arlington National Cemetery AMA

EDIT: Thank you for the gold!!!! EDIT 2: I never expected this would get this much attention. Thank you all and I really appreciate the platinum!!

Comments: 871 • Responses: 98  • Date: 

Kastroph663 karma

Did you have to apply for the position? What was that like?

RoyalArchon1139 karma

I was sent here directly after Basic Training. I did not sign up to come here but I do my job to the best of my ability. If this is where my country needs me then this is what I will do.

sarcasmsiempre438 karma

Do you know if you were selected randomly or if you showed skills in basic that led to the assignment?

RoyalArchon662 karma

I have no idea of that and I’ve always wondered.

shenannergan463 karma

Usually if you've been selected for a special program you'll know. Assignment to the Old Guard isn't something your DS's will recommend for you, but something like RASP, Airborne, or selection (potentially) is. As far as I understand Old Guard assignment is assigned just like any other assignment

RoyalArchon331 karma

Thank you I’ve wondered about that for a while

SyntheticOne183 karma

Are you and most of your cadre 6' tall or more, handsome, and trim?

RoyalArchon277 karma

1/3 are mostly 5’7 to 5’11 4/3 are 6’ plus

There are a variety of different body types ethnicity etc.

R3ven530 karma

Yall are rocking 133% of you being tall? Got damn I didnt know Shaq was in the military

RoyalArchon311 karma

Lol first battalion is 1/3 fourth battalion is 4/3

SoggyBarSoap28 karma

Ah, so handsome isn't one.

RoyalArchon42 karma

You right lol

Spcone2334 karma

11B? I heard them old guards party hard?

RoyalArchon56 karma

11B=Infantry You have no idea how right you are lol.

Spcone2341 karma

I was a 12B, had a guy who was old guard. Told a story about how they passed around some SGM daughter around the barracks lol thought he was kidding

RoyalArchon94 karma

I’m not touching that one with a 10 ft pole lol

Knockemup-6 karma

I find this answer extremely hard to believe. The requirements for a special duty like this are stringent for a reason. Like the honor guard positions they dont just take random people fresh from basic and stick them in highly visible jobs unless it was in your contract. See the various bands the military has. What's your actual mos?

Edit: for anyone downvoting, you cant just show up to a special duty assignment and the application is literally on the internet. I'm not saying the guy isnt there. I'm saying it's not a job they throw anybody into.

RoyalArchon3 karma

My MOS is 11B

JBSConCarne538 karma

Former Honor Guard member on an Air Force base here.

When waiting to start the ceremony does your team engage in light hearted or even inappropriate talk? I know we did l lol

RoyalArchon1056 karma

It’s an infantry unit in the army. You tell me lol.

poopsicle88720 karma

So just prayers and Bible study then?

RoyalArchon587 karma

I do not know who you are but you are officially my favorite person lol

TheyCallMeOso482 karma

Does the feeling of sadness doing hundreds of funerals get easier over time?

RoyalArchon763 karma

As bad as it sounds to say yes it does. I’ve been to a family members funeral after being here and felt almost nothing. I still felt completely destroyed at the fact that he died but the funeral itself did not make me feel any differently

TheBiggestCuntEver349 karma

What is a standard day for you like?

RoyalArchon540 karma

On primary it would be -0530 first call -0745 fallout for mission -0900 first mission -1100 second mission -1300 third mission -1500 fourth mission Times may vary depending on the number of missions for the day Off primary it’s -0530 first call -0600 first form -0630 PT -rest of the day depends on what is relevant at the time

betzevim282 karma

What is a "mission in this case?

RoyalArchon509 karma

A funeral

salty_john323 karma

Holy shit, 4 funerals a day? That has to be draining. I was Honor BM for a burial at sea, didn't know the dude but it messed with my head for a bit.

RoyalArchon374 karma

It is pretty draining but you get used to it

Viper_ACR325 karma

Have you ever done a funeral for a MOH recipient?

RoyalArchon528 karma

No I have not but the day I do I will run 10 miles in respect.

franticcactusmantis126 karma

Is that something you believe or is that a tradition

RoyalArchon265 karma

I have incredible respect for MOH recipients and it’s the best way I know to push myself physically to show the extent of my respect

converter-bot120 karma

10 miles is 16.09 km

PocketSandThroatKick363 karma

Not now bot.

RoyalArchon152 karma

Preach

Ambiizzle299 karma

Have you ever guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Like an Army Sentinel?

RoyalArchon542 karma

The Tomb is guarded by very dedicated Tomb Guards who can only make sentinel after becoming experts in every area of the cemetery and the Tomb. However I am a colors guard and we do perform wreath ceremonies on the Tomb.

youarelookingatthis83 karma

Do you interact with the other Tomb Guards at all?

RoyalArchon152 karma

I’m not a Tomb Guard but I do know a few people that have been

sicklixix224 karma

What are 3 things you like about your job and 3 things you dislike?

RoyalArchon508 karma

Being from a small town in Georgia living near DC is pretty cool. Also this job allows me to move up in rank rather quickly and we have better work hours than other infantry units.

I dislike the fact that all of our ceremonial uniforms are made of thick cotton and paired with 100+ degree heat makes marching in the summer a pain. Our barracks are over 100 years old and we must act with “the upmost of discipline” as my base is home to many high ranking officers.

eaglescout198461 karma

You like living near DC? As someone from Charlottesville who's gone to NoVA/DC for field visits, concerts, Nats games, weekends, etc I cannot stand the traffic.

RoyalArchon158 karma

Well it is annoying sometimes but the two years I lived in Atlanta I learned to drive so I’m used to traffic. However the roads are like someone on LSD and a small mountain of Cocaine plotted them

TwoLambos42 karma

do you get in trouble if you faint on the job from a heat stroke?

RoyalArchon103 karma

No you won’t get in trouble. Everyone is on the edge of going down so they can’t blame you for doing so

badluckie18 karma

what is the protocol for this, do you leave the fainted down on the ground and continue?

RoyalArchon30 karma

There are supers that will replace the Fainted individual and remove them from the cemetery

PocketSandThroatKick216 karma

I was there last December for my grandfather's service. It is hard to phrase the compliment I want to pay but you all were awesome.

During a quiet part of the service a pin fell from one of the guards. I heard it and enjoyed watching him make eye contact with a few others there. I think someone else stealthily nabbed it before the procession, my memories are kind of a blur.

Is there a reprimand when something like this happens? I hope it wasn't bad, the dude felt terrible, you could see it.

Be proud of what you do, it was an honor for us to see it.

RoyalArchon189 karma

Thank you. There is not a punishment in most cases. Things happen and leadership acknowledges that

subdolous216 karma

Thank you for volunteering and everything you do. Your job is truly unique. Two questions: 1) Of the service members' funerals you supported which story sticks with you most? 2) How many hours per day do you spend maintaining your uniform?

RoyalArchon350 karma

There was a Green Beret that we performed a funeral for earlier this year, I’m not sure if it was that his entire squad of fellow Green Berets showed up for the funeral or that we took the most time of any funeral I have ever done but that one sticks with me. Along side another funeral we performed where a small child was present however he did not know the full extent of what a funeral was. It wasn’t until he saw the casket laid onto the grave site that he realized and began to cry.

Recently I have not had to do much maintenance to my uniform as in the winter we don’t sweat much. So probably about 30 minutes to an hour. But in the summer it can take 1-2 hours if not more considering the skill of the person

quesoqueso202 karma

Was it Mike Goble?

If so, thanks. He was a friend.

If it was any other GB....still thanks. It's an important job giving what you give to families.

RoyalArchon198 karma

The name sounds very familiar however it is hard to remember. I believe the funeral took place in January of this year.

Also thank you very much for your respect and I appreciate your thanks as well.

poopsicle8863 karma

Well that kid thing sparked another question....how do you not fucking cry at stuff like that? How do you maintain military bearing when your heart has gotta be ......is it just the training? Combat is one thing. There is a urgency to it and immediacy (id imagine). But little kid just crying there how do you defend against a cut like that

RoyalArchon196 karma

I did cry I just could not move

BearBong23 karma

Honest Q... Do your tears just run down your face? You can't wipe them

RoyalArchon60 karma

Yes you are not allowed to move at all your not even supposed to move your eyes

BearBong22 karma

Thanks for a reply. How hard is it to learn to not move? How much better have you gotten?

RoyalArchon63 karma

It’s tricky at first but eventually you go into a trance like state where your thinking about stuff in your head and your body performs the actions on its own. I’ve gone to present arms before and not even realized it with the most extreme case one day I did an entire mission and barley remembered doing it.

zachlovespodcasts115 karma

My grandfather was in the Old Guard during the Kennedy Administration!

Have you seen the movie Gardens of Stone? How accurately does it depict the Old Guard?

RoyalArchon101 karma

Much appreciation to your grandfather.

I have heard of the movie but have not seen it so I couldn’t give a comparison.

stopthemeyham101 karma

Myself and a couple other guys in our battalion were selected to go Old Guard, but of the 5-8 of us they only picked one, who wasn't me. I always wondered how my life would have been different had I gotten in. I did 2 tours in the Middle East instead -_-. Hopefully you've enjoyed your position, what's the biggest perk in your opinon, biggest con?

RoyalArchon99 karma

Biggest perk: promotions are easier Biggest con: the barracks suck lol

stopthemeyham28 karma

Lol, I feel the barracks. My barracks in AIT and some extra training were at Ft. Gordon, near where a lot of military culinary stuff is done. It was amazing. Steak, Lobster, etc. Got used to it, then shipped straight to the sand box and lived on MRE's for a year and some change. What's the promotion structure like? I know in my MOS (94E) when I enlisted the promos were pretty quick because it was a pretty new MOS and wasn't super saturated, but by the time I got around to getting promotions getting past E6 was basically impossible.

RoyalArchon26 karma

Promotions are surprisingly easy. Infantry already has a fat promotion rate but here it’s even faster

thewombbroom72 karma

My wife’s grandfather is a retired LTG going into Arlington one day. What’s that gonna be like? Pretty impressive I would think.

RoyalArchon144 karma

It will be a full honors funeral on a plot of land specifically for Generals with a two platoon escort element a colors team a firing party and the firing of cannons.

Lybychick71 karma

Does Arlington use a live bugler or one of those prerecorded horns that look like a live bugler?

RoyalArchon105 karma

I’ve never seen where the music comes from so I could not tell you however the national band is stationed here so there may be a good chance it is a live bugler.

its_ghaba51 karma

Can confirm it's a live bugler every time at that cemetery

RoyalArchon37 karma

Yes at the cemetery it is live

ArkGuardian66 karma

How do "Ceremonial" military units differ from standard ones? Should more people who enlist consider them?

RoyalArchon60 karma

The major difference is the job. In essence a military unit will operate similarly to any other no matter the location. I believe you should do the job you want and you should consider all before making a decision.

Intelligent-Rise61 karma

Have you gone in some military mission due to more demand of soldiers?

RoyalArchon95 karma

I have been here since basic training and never been deployed if that’s what your asking

Intelligent-Rise31 karma

Thanks for answering!

I also wanted to ask that do you also do same daily training as of infantry soldiers and what about your firing guns during funerals?

RoyalArchon68 karma

We do very rigorous physical training such as five mile runs. 12 mile rucks. Etc

Also the ones that perform 21 gun salutes are the firing party. They are a separate platoon in my company

Besrod61 karma

Do they have you do any actual infantry training when you're not on mission?

RoyalArchon115 karma

There are times where we will do tactical training. We must be capable of both ceremonial affairs as well as being capable soldiers in the case that DC was under attack.

SilverRichards57 karma

What’s a better deal the Wendy’s 4 for 4 or the Burger King’s 5 for 5?

RoyalArchon133 karma

Cafe Rio half off military Monday ;)

PocketSandThroatKick27 karma

Didn't know about military Monday. Here they do first responder /wildland firefighter whenever you show your red-card. Stack that with taco Tuesday and you are in and out under $3.

Also my grandfather was laid in the national cemetery last December. I appreciate everything you all did. It was incredible.

RoyalArchon21 karma

It’s honestly saved my ass more times than I can count lol.

Perfectenschlag_49 karma

Do tourists ever interfere with funerals at the cemetery? If so, any stories you’d share?

RoyalArchon61 karma

I’ve heard of things like that happening but it is very rare and I have not experienced it.

diffcalculus98 karma

Here's a short story for you, from a former guns platoon member:

We were on one of the more touristy locations to fire from. We were getting the cannons ready, which always draws a crowd. As we started to tighten up and get ready for the fire mission, we had a good amount of people.

In this particular spot, civilians can stand somewhat close. And there were several baby strollers in the crowd. We can hear the people talking. They thought it was going to be some cute little thing. We hear the "shhh, they're starting soon", and other mumblings.

The call comes over the radio. The captain starts his commands:

Ready, battery!

Settle down

Stand by

This is when we all smile (on the inside, obviously), because we all know these parents are about to hear what the cannons do.

Fire!

BOOOOOOM!! A sea of babies start crying. Parents start rushing off, completely taken back by the sudden boom of the first gun.

RoyalArchon66 karma

Yes.. just yes

diffcalculus36 karma

Good luck on the rest of your tour. Take advantage of any schools they offer, and take advantage of the area that you're in. It's one of the better memories of the military that I carry.

RoyalArchon23 karma

Thank you

StumpNuts46 karma

Any plans or desire to deploy? I went to Old Guard after basic as well in 05 and was there for two years. I reenlisted to get out when chatter was going around that Ft Irwin was going to deploy and spent a year there then went to Germany for two years before finally deploying to butt fuck Afghanistan.

There's a place in my heart for Old Guard but I fucking hated it there because that isn't the way I wanted my career to start.

What kind of things are being done at funerals to account for COVID? I can't imagine they see it to be a great idea to hand off a flag to a widow that a dozen or more people have been wrapped around for the past hour.

What's your job and how bad do you wish you were full honors firing party? That's where I was and I gotta tell ya, sitting on the bus watching everyone else stand outside the chapel was nearly therapeutic on a bad day.

RoyalArchon95 karma

First of all... why you gotta do me like that lol. I enjoy colors but I do envy the firing party. I am not sure what specific precautions are taken in the cemetery lately however we do have ceremonial masks.

If I could deploy and fight with those that we bury I would be on the plane yesterday.

Slick_Rhoads46 karma

What was the hardest part of becoming an Old Guard?

RoyalArchon109 karma

Standing completely still in 90 degree heat for two hours in full dress uniform while doing rifle manual

jay_Da24 karma

What goes in your mind during these "standstills"? Do you imagine scenarios or do make-believes, or were you traines to entirely keep your mind blank with almost no thoughts?

RoyalArchon65 karma

It’s gotten to the point where I basically fall asleep standing up and wake up at the end of a mission apparently performing great the entire time lol

123fakerusty34 karma

What do you do to prevent passing out from heat stroke?

RoyalArchon53 karma

Hydrate and eat a heavy meal the night before with an adequate breakfast

microbial233 karma

Have you ever failed a uniform inspection? What’s that like?

RoyalArchon60 karma

I have not but that’s mostly due to the fact that if I did I would be at work as long as it took to make the uniform absolutely perfect down to the centimeter. Even if it takes untill the next duty day

Fuhreeldoe32 karma

Just what are you allowed or not allowed to say if given "permission to speak freely?"

RoyalArchon49 karma

Well telling any form of leadership to f*ck off wouldn’t go very well lol Other than that we can speak freely in most occasions

Fuhreeldoe21 karma

So expressing most anything but insubordination?

RoyalArchon28 karma

Yes

electricamethyst32 karma

What’s your favorite thing to do? Both at work and outside work

RoyalArchon110 karma

I like naps. Whenever I can get them. Lol

heterotard29 karma

Thank you for your service. What kind of emotional toll has this job had on you?

RoyalArchon45 karma

Thank you. Not much of a toll. Just very numb to things that would make people sad

TrashBrigade28 karma

What do you appreciate the most out of your day?

RoyalArchon51 karma

I appreciate the people I work with. Many units are hard on soldiers and there are accounts of hazing however in this unit that does not happen very often

amazing999926 karma

Here’s something I’ve always wondered, are the rifles you guys carry loaded? I’ve always thought their just ceremonial and unloaded because there are a lot of civilians about, but I could be wrong

RoyalArchon39 karma

They are unloaded except for the firing party who carry blanks

amazing999918 karma

But are the bayonets sharpened?

RoyalArchon30 karma

For the most part no. But some of them are sharper than others

kaytbug8621 karma

How long does a post in the guard at Arlington usually last? A year?

RoyalArchon39 karma

My term here should complete my three year contract

theangrylobster21 karma

What's the worst thing about daily life in the US military that in your opinion could be changed ?

RoyalArchon60 karma

It’s honestly not that bad for the most part but if I had to say. I wish every defac in the military was ran by the Air Force

Injunr19 karma

The bot removed this as I guess I didn’t use a ? I asked if you were working on May 7th for the 1pm services? We buried My stepmother Lt Colonel Patrica Blake w my dad in section 68

RoyalArchon17 karma

I was not working but I am sorry for your loss

ruinevil19 karma

Are you still doing ceremonies during the pandemic?

RoyalArchon34 karma

Ceremonial affairs continue however only for standards. As I am full honors I do not

Ircheezeburger17 karma

You Vs the guys outside her majesty's palace. Who wins?

RoyalArchon18 karma

Hmmm in what contexts

stablegeniusss12 karma

Do the DS at sand hill still make you carry all your stuff if you forget to lock your locker?

RoyalArchon24 karma

Step one fill mop bucket Step two fill sand bags Step three pour and bags into mop bucket Step four dump on floor and clean

TheMissingLink510 karma

First off, thank you for your service! Do you do ceremonies only at Arlington, or do they send you to other services in the area as well? My buddy does color guard in a state for police deaths, and they have a special challenge coin, do you as well?

RoyalArchon14 karma

I have not gotten a challenge coin yet. As colors we do funerals, flag missions for political meetings and the like. As well as wreath ceremonies and retirement ceremonies.

eZCoffeE7 karma

Thanks for your service. Arlington is literally my favorite place in the United States. I can walk there for hours and just feel at peace, all while feeling patriotic and shit. What can you tell me about Arlington that most people wouldn't know?
edit can you hook a brother up with anything? :D

RoyalArchon5 karma

What are you looking to know? I’ll try my best to help ya out man

notQA4 karma

As someone who was in my base honor guard, thank you for what you do. After your tour with the old guard, do you think you will visit other honor guard units and teach them some of the things you know? Or instil in them the reverence that you may have?

Not sure how the army is, but I'm in the air force so things might be slightly different. We had someone come to my base that had the honor of being in the DC honor guard for the air force, he really helped out! Thanks for what you do brother.

RoyalArchon4 karma

Thank you for what you do as well. And if I find any honor guard units I’ll do my best to show them everything I know

Swayze_Train4 karma

Thank you for what you do.

Just curious, is there a reason that family members can't keep spent casings from the salute? Is it some kinda health hazard or something?

RoyalArchon3 karma

I wasn’t aware that was a particular rule. It’s never come to my attention

jupiter_sunstone4 karma

What made you want to join the military?

RoyalArchon7 karma

A list of things mostly just wanted to get out of my small town

Ruuhkatukka4 karma

Do you also play gay chicken with your comrades or is that just a Navy/marine thing?

RoyalArchon8 karma

I’ve seen two guys full on make out playing that

Oniriggers3 karma

How long will you serve at that post? And will you be able to pick your next duty station?

RoyalArchon6 karma

Yes I will be able to pick my next station if I reenlist. I will serve a total of three years here

roman_fyseek2 karma

When I went through PLDC, we had 10 or 15 of you guys from 3rd ID.

I remember those first couple of formations where the platoon leaders would put you tall beautiful men right there up front. But, what we found was that y'all have altered your pace. You can't put you guys in front of the formation if you want to get there today.

And, you guys click when you walk.

And, trying to call manual of arms is whack because you guys do it at a different pace and there're those two guys in the formation who are all, "Bro, I drill with a musket. What's Present Arms with this thing, again?"

RoyalArchon2 karma

I thank god I don’t wear a powdered wig and drill a musket every day. But yea we do things a lot slower

poppymcmuffins4472 karma

Ever killed a man?

RoyalArchon5 karma

Negative ghost rider

poppymcmuffins4472 karma

Assuming idk what that means, what does that mean?

RoyalArchon2 karma

No I have not

CalebDK2 karma

How long have you been with the Old Guard?

RoyalArchon2 karma

Going on about 8 months or more

GrandMasterReddit2 karma

What do you think of the Pentagon releasing those UFO videos? Have you heard anything about it during your service. What is the general consensus about them?

RoyalArchon3 karma

Hi early they haven’t been talked about that much I think it’s cool but it’s just a UFO as far as I can tell it doesn’t confirm aliens

wilcou1 karma

Where are you going after? I have a friend who did USAF funerals at Arlington until recently and he got to choose his next assignment. He chose to do cyber warfare.

Are you tall and/or good looking? My friend is, I imagine it helped

RoyalArchon0 karma

I mean I’m probably not the best looking lol

And I haven’t decided yet

CAPCadet20151 karma

3 Questions

Have you had the Whooperito?

Whats your favorite part of the job.

Do yall have medics assigned to the platoon or is it jist in your HHC or not at all?

RoyalArchon1 karma

Never had it

The people I work with

We have assigned medics but they work in the aid station

Zurchi1 karma

What MOS did you enlist as? What is your rank now?

RoyalArchon2 karma

11B And I’m a boot ass PFC lol

niuguy1 karma

You expect to PCS to a line unit or are you color guard until you ETS?

RoyalArchon1 karma

I will be here untill I ETS but I might reenlist and PCS to another station

shadowninja19830 karma

What company you in?

RoyalArchon5 karma

I can’t tell you the exact company I’m sorry

poopsicle880 karma

Do you ever get jealous of the New Guard? You guys get all the old uniforms and equipment and they get all the nice new stuff?

RoyalArchon3 karma

We plan to sneak in at midnight. Do we go for the uniforms? No we go for the edge dressing. It’s priceless

XxHahaYouLostxX-9 karma

Do you truly believe I'm your cause? Personally I think since WW2 the US has started and gotten involved in wars over money, power and oil and in the process ruining countless lives.

RoyalArchon24 karma

I do not care about politics. I care about people.

kanpouz-48 karma

What's your trigger word?

RoyalArchon11 karma

Can you elaborate?