ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. - Samuel Barnett has made Army Medical Department (AMEDD) history by becoming the second 68W (Combat Medic) to receive The Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge, and the first junior enlisted AMEDD Soldier to earn this honor. Barnett, a native of Dyer, Tenn., was pinned by his mother, Ms. Carol Lackhard at a badge ceremony inside the Memorial Amphitheater Chapel in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., on Oct. 24.
The Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge is the second-least awarded badge in the U.S. Army, after the Astronaut Badge. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS) holds the unidentified remains of soldiers from World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Tomb Sentinels guard the TUS 24 hours a day, 365 days a year despite any weather condition at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. The precision of this elite platoon is witnessed by more than three million visitors a year who come to watch the changing of the guard at the TUS.
Barnett, Tomb Sentinel, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard), was formerly assigned to the Old Guard’s 529th Regimental Support Company. He reported to his current position as Tomb guard in March. After months of intense training, he became the 620th soldier to receive the badge since it was first issued in 1958.
“It’s a significant achievement for Army Medicine and reflects greatly on the Old Guard medical platoon and the Army Medical Department,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Parchey, regimental senior medic and native of Lewistown, Pa. “It’s definitely a tremendous honor, Spc. Barnett has set a standard for his peers.”
A soldier seeking the honor of serving as a sentinel at the Tomb must possess exemplary qualities, to include American citizenship, a spotless record, and impeccable military bearing. In order to earn the right to be called a Tomb Sentinel, candidates must pass a series of five tests which can take up to nine months. These tests consist of outside performances, uniform inspection, and the history of the Army, Arlington National Cemetery, and The Tomb.
“When he first came he had his eye on achieving something and there was a certain point when we were uncertain he was going to pass,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tanner Welch, sergeant of the Guard. “He’s 6’6 and about 150 pounds, and for him to be able to master the movements down to a fraction of an inch was challenging. We weren’t sure he was going to be able to do it.”
Welch oversaw Barnett’s progression from his first day of training to now becoming a part of the history of the Old Guard and AMEDD.
“He’s overcome a lot of trials and tribulation and is now a success. It’s good to see soldiers who are willing to tough it out and do whatever it takes to achieve their goals,” said Welch, a native of Austin, Texas.
Barnett, who is currently on personal leave, was unavailable for comment. However, his character, says Welch, is reflective of why soldiers choose the guard.
It’s a hard award to get,” said Welch. “This is something hard and prestigious, but it isn’t about personal gratification. These soldiers are doing their duty to render honor for the soldiers who went before them.”
The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) conducts memorial affairs to honor our fallen comrades, and ceremonies and special events to represent the Army, communicating its story to our Nation's citizens and the world. On order, the regiment conducts defense support of civil authorities in the National Capitol Region.
Army.mil/Old Guard: http://www.oldguard.mdw.army.mil/specialty-platoons/tomb-of-the-unknown