Tomb Guard Identification Badge Ceremony Remarks
10 years ago
The following are remarks delivered by Neale Cosby on March 14, 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery upon the awarding of Tomb Guard Identification Badge #612 to PFC Jacob Davenport. Mr. Cosby is a former Tomb Guard, a Founder of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the namesake of the Neale Cosby Scholarship.
Thank you Colonel Markert. I’m always honored to attend a Tomb Guard award ceremony.
I must say a word about Jacobs’s great uncle, SGT/Col Talmadge Gilley. SGT Gilley left the Tomb in the early 1958 and I arrived in late 1958. He was one of those soldiers, either as a sentinel or relief commander that other people looked up to. He always had his stuff together. Indeed, he was a great soldier and a great citizen.
Now, back to PFC Davenport. Jacob, your brigade commander has just entered you into a unique military society – The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Thanks to him you are now a marked man – for the rest of your life on earth and even after in death. Let me explain.
First, as long as you wear that Army uniform you will wear that badge  (point to his badge) that Colonel Markert pinned on your right breast pocket today. Other soldiers will immediately recognize and respect you. They will know the true meaning of that prestige award. You do not need to brag. They will say, congratulations. You will answer with a humble, thank you.
Second, after you leave the Army you will still be marked. You will wear on your civilian clothing for the rest of your life the miniature badge or Tomb Guard lapel pin, which I’m wearing today. Most civilians will not recognize the badge. They will point at the badge and asked, what is that? With great pride, you will explain how you were a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where you continuously rendered this nation’s highest honors to the American Unknowns and Missing Soldiers at this nation’s highest military shrine in Arlington National Cemetery. They will light up and say, I know that place and many will say, I have been there. All will, thank you with sincere emphasis.
Third, and finally, after you die, your next-of-kin will mount this Tomb Guard medallion on your tombstone. Your family and friends – generation after generation after generation – forever – in perpetuity, will visit your gravesite and see your accomplishment that started – right here – this day by Colonel Markert.
So, that is what I mean by you being a marked man in life and in death. You will forever be known as a Tomb Guard.
Image Attributed to Rex Looney.
Colonel Jim Markert is the current Regimental Commander of the 3rd U.S. Infantry “Old Guard”.
A Tomb Guard award ceremony is when the Old Guard regimental commander awards the Tomb Guard Identification Badge to an individual who has successfully completed several months of rigorous training at the Tomb.
Mr. Cosby pointed to PFC Davenport’s Tomb Guard Identification Badge.
The Society provides the surviving family of deceased Tomb Guards a Tomb Guard Idenification Badge medallion. The medallion is a replica of the Tomb Guard Identification Badge designed to adorn the burial headstone or marker.
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Did you know?
Is it true a Sentinel must commit for two years to guard the Tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives.
No, this is a false rumor. The average tour at the Tomb is about a 18 months. However, there is NO set time for service there. Sentinels live either in a barracks on Ft. Myer (the Army post located adjacent to the cemetery) or off base if they like. They do have a living quarters under the steps of the amphitheater where they stay during their 24 hour shifts. If they are of legal age, they may drink except while on duty.