PRESERVING A MILITARY LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The following Reflection represents SSG Robert Nyce’s legacy of their military service from 1966 to 1969. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.
Of all your duty stations you were assigned to from your Military Service, which one(s) do you have fondest memories of and why?
1st Battalion 3rd Infantry – The Old Guard
I arrived at Fort Myer, VA, in May of 1967, newly assigned to the 1st Battalion 3rd Infantry and fresh out of AIT. I still remember my first impressions of Fort Myer as I drove into the post from Arlington Boulevard since it was part of Arlington National Cemetery. The very first funeral I witnessed was a Full Honor Funeral for a General who had passed away. The ceremony was breathtaking, including the Caison, The Riderless Horse, marching platoon, the Casket Team, and the bugler. Little did I know at the time that every funeral in Arlington National Cemetery is graded by an officer of the Battalion. Those grades are all reviewed and reported to the Captain and 1st Sargent of each company responsible for providing the funeral team. After a bit of time, it began to sink in just how reverent the cemetery is and how important the services provided by all of the Military Funeral Teams are to the families of fallen soldiers—watching the grief they had as their precious loved one was put to rest. That became abundantly clear on Memorial Day when The Old Guard placed a flag on every grave in the cemetery. Yes, every single grave, just as is still done today. It stays with me always as I reflect upon my days in The Old Guard because placing those flags was not fun.
In 2018 I had the honor to escort a brave Viet Nam veteran and pilot, recipient of The Distinguished Flying Cross, on an Honor Flight from The Villages, Florida. We have an outstanding Honor Flight unit here in The Villages, FL, that has had many flights to Washington in honor of those that served – now especially important for the Vietnam Era veterans that did not get the respect they earned following their service. So, as a member of The Old Guard Association, and a proud Vietnam Era Veteran, I can say that serving in our Nation’s most honored cemetery and one of the oldest surviving units in the Army left me with memories that have lasted all of my life.
One of my close friends became a Tomb Guard; he was tall enough, so I got to see exactly what is involved when I visited with him in their quarters beneath the amphitheater at the Tomb of the Unknown. Very impressive – they are perfect in what they do. And if you have never witnessed the Changing of The Guard, put it on your bucket list! While I served in The Old Guard, we buried President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Robert Kennedy. President Richard Nixon was inaugurated, the Pentagon was overrun by protesters, and Washington, DC, had riots, all during my assignment there. The Old Guard was one of the first responders during the riots of 1968. We had machine guns set up on the Capitol steps. They were memorable times for our country that left a lasting influence on this young soldier, including defining what service in our military is all about.
I am honored to have had the chance to serve in the U S Army. I am even more honored that I was able to complete my service during some of the most difficult times in America in America’s Unit – The Old Guard. God Bless the USA, all of our Veterans of all the wars, and especially those who paid the ultimate price so that the rest of us can be free.
Humbly submitted Rober E. Nyce, Former SSG, 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry, The Old Guard.
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There are tears rolling down my cheeks, as my chest heaves; making the writing a time of the past and present meld into one. Your writing brings with it a quiet reality as the thoughts never quite fade and are always hidden within the places others will never know.
For us who were part of what was simply known as ‘The Detail,” the words are ones which carry with them a stark awareness. Within each of those who were chosen, there remains a scent, a color, a sound which brings into focus the memories of each whom we held in their final moments before being laid to rest.
If asked to recall the moments; there are always eyes turned either downward in respect or a fighting away of emotion causing tears; there is always a stillness surrounding the moment.
To be one of those chosen is undoubtedly the highest honor one can have bestowed upon them; the honor of holding a Veteran and being the last to touch the Veteran as they are laid to rest; There is no higher honor one can ask of another.
For what we share, we are the honored and I salute you;
Navy Salutes Army
Most articles about Veterans all end with “God Bless Veterans that served in all wars”, what about saying “God Bless ALL Veterans” . I, and millions in my age group served in peace time and never get thanked even though millions enlisted, not drafted. I served in the Air Force, 1955-1959, then joined the Air Force Reserve and served until 1986. WW2 Vets are the Greatest Generation, Peace Time Vets are the Forgotten Generation. I say God Bless All Veterans.
Louis Conti, MSGT, USAFR, (Ret)