Michael P Heaphy
Tomb PositionCommander of the Relief, Sentinel
Highest Military RankSGT E-5
Tomb DatesMay 1976 - Jan 1978
Military DatesDec 1973 - Jan 1978
Home City / StateBuffalo, NY
Current City / StateDecatur, GA
Tomb ReflectionsBest duty every - BiCentennial of the United States of America. I was at the Tomb from late 1975 until mustering out of the Army January 1978. If I were to have to do it all over, I would not hesitate, highest honor an Infantry soldier could imagine was being picked to be a Sentinel at the Tomb. Wreath-laying ceremonies were always truly touching, and every time I changed the Guard I had to bite my tongue at the honor. I was known as a bellower for my deep voice and ability to control a crowd with that voice. I have nothing but admiration for any other soldiers that served. A finer group of men I have never known, including all the men, the NCO\\\\\\\'s, and the officers involved.
Units & CampaignsCo C, 2nd Bn 504th Infanty, 82nd Airborne Division
Co E, 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard)
Awards & DecorationsNational Defense Service Medal
Good Conduct Medal
Tomb Guard Badge
US Army Jungle Operations Training Center badge
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Did you know?
Has anyone ever tried to get past the Tomb guards, or attempted to deface the Tomb?
Yes, that is the reason why we now guard the Tomb. Back in the early 1920's, we didn't have guards and the Tomb looked much different. It was flat at ground level without the 70 ton marble 'cap'. People often came to the cemetery in those days and a few actually used the Tomb as a picnic area, likely because of the view. Soon after in 1925, they posted a civilian guard. In 1926, a US Army soldier was posted during cemetery hours. On July 1, 1937 guard duty was expanded to the 24 hour watch. Since then, the ceremony has evolved throughout the years to what you see today. Today, most of the challenges faced by the Sentinels are tourists who are speaking too loudly or attempting to get a better picture (by entering the post).