Tomb DatesAug 1959 - Oct 1960
Society MembershipFounding Father
Current City / StateSwoyersville, Pennsylvania
ObituaryFormer Swoyersville Councilman John Butchko passed away Friday, September 9, 2011, at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. Born in Wilkes-Barre Township, a son of the late Charles and Anna Kish Butchko, John was a member of Holy Trinity Church, Swoyersville. He was employed by the Wyoming Valley Sewer Authority. John was a U.S. Army Veteran and was one of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was a member of the American Legion Post 644, Swoyersville. John was also a founding member of the Society of Honor Guard Tomb of Unknown Soldier. He was very active in politics and served as a Councilman for the Borough of Swoyersville for many years. He was preceded in death by siblings, Ann, Marge, Mary, Michael and Helen. Surviving are his wife, the former Rosemarie Washko; children, Lynne McCann, Swoyersville; Maria Figmic, Nanticoke; John, Swoyersville, and Tammy Cook, Swoyersville; grandchildren, Abriel McCann, John and Matthew Butchko, Joshua, Ronald, Charles and Nicholas Cook; as well as sisters, Elizabeth Zbegner and Jean Miscavage, both of Plains Township.
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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 680 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 a total of five female Sentinels awarded the Tomb Guard Identification Badge:
SGT Danyell Wilson earned
her badge in 1997
SSG Tonya Bell received hers in 1998
SGT Ruth Hanks earned her badge in June 2015
SFC Chelsea Porterfield earned her badge in 2021
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.