Kevin V. Welker (Grubel)
Tomb PositionAssistant Relief Commander, Assistant Sergeant of the Guard, Commander of the Relief, Sentinel
Highest Military RankStaff Sergeant (E-6)
Tomb DatesFeb 1997 - May 2001
Military DatesMar 1993 - Jul 2001
Society MembershipLifetime Member
Home City / StateCarey, OH
Current City / StateCenterburg, OH
Tomb ReflectionsI think my saddest moment at the Tomb would have to be the disinterment of the Vietnam Unknown. I remember having to walk down on the lower landing of the steps while work was conducted on the plaza. Then the day came. The Sentinels lined the south side of the plaza and watched as the Unknown was placed into the hearse. My heart felt like it was in my throat the entire time. I still get teary eyed when I think of that day or tell others about it. To me there will always be four Unknowns.
Although I have had many memories from the public side of the Tomb, I think my greatest memories are the private ones I shared with the Sentinels that I worked with. They were literally like brothers to me. We all had common bonds…the Unknowns and our dedication to their memory.
I now have an extended Tomb Guard family...those that served before and after me. Through the Society, I have made new, lifelong friends within our circle. I am proud to have served on the Board of Directors for the Society and hope to see it blossom even more in the years to come as we move towards the Centennial Celebration in 2021.
Units & CampaignsC Co. 1/50th Inf., I.T.B., Ft. Benning, GA
B Co. 1/14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, HI
HHC 1/14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, HI
E Co., (Honor Guard) 3d US Inf Reg (The Old Guard), Fort Myer, VA
H Co., (Honor Guard) 3d US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Fort Myer, VA
Awards & DecorationsArmy Commendation Medal (2nd Award)
Army Achievement Medal (7th Award)
National Defense Service Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award)
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
NCO Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 2)
Tomb Guard Identification Badge
Expert Infantryman Badge
Air Assault Badge
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The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) is able to provide our programs, events, assistance, scholarships, and services due to the generosity of its members, organizations, and individuals. SHGTUS does not receive institutional funding. Note: The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a 501(c)(3) organization, so your contributions may be fully tax deductible.
Did you know?
How many Sentinels have been female?
There have been over 630 tomb guards awarded the badge since 1958 when we started counting. There are hundreds more from the year 1926 when the Army started guarding the Tomb. The 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) is the unit that has been given the duty of guarding the Tomb. It was given this sacred duty in 1948. The Old Guard was -- and still is -- considered a combat unit. As an Infantry unit, females were not permitted in the ranks for many years. It wasn't until 1994 that females were permitted to volunteer to become a Sentinel when the 289th Military Police Company was attached to the Old Guard. The MP branch is a combat support unit and includes females.
In 1996, SGT Heather Johnson became the first female to earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. She volunteered for duty in June 1995 and earned her badge in 1996. However, SGT Johnson was not the only female Sentinel. Since then, there have been three additional female Sentinels awarded the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. SGT Danyell Wilson earned her badge in 1997, SSG Tonya Bell received hers in 1998, and SGT Ruth Hanks earned her badge, #643 in June 2015.
Several other units have since been attached to the Old Guard -- food service, transportation, medics, etc. -- so now females have an ever greater opportunity to become a Sentinel. Females must meet the same requirements as the male soldiers to be eligible to volunteer at the Tomb. the only difference is that females have a minimum height of 5'8" -- which is the same standard to be a member of the Old Guard.