Tomb DatesNov 1966 - Nov 1967
ObituaryJune 12, 1945 – May 25, 2013 James J. Laettner, a retired Buffalo teacher who served as an honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, died Saturday in his home in Tampa, Fla., after a struggle with cancer. He was 67. Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of McKinley High School, where he trained in plumbing. Drafted into the Army, he served as an honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in 1966 and 1967.Returning from service, he continued training with Plumbers Local 36, later Local 22, then earned his teaching degree from Buffalo State College. Mr. Laettner taught plumbing at McKinley High School for 32 years and was honored as Teacher of the Year. He retired in 2002 and moved to Florida. Known to his friends as “Nipper,” he enjoyed golfing and travel. Surviving are his wife, the former Sandra Wilke; two sons, Jason and Evan; a stepson, Frederick Ullrich; two brothers, George and Francis; a sister, Irene Zawadski; and his first wife, the former Linda Martin. James’ ashes are inurned at Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium court 7.
Memories & Condolences
I was a sentinel on the first relief. I relieved Jim on the mat. We were close and had some great times. I am smiling now Jimmy just thinking about some of the things. Mike Odell told me you passed, you had been gone three years when I found out. I guess over the years we all drift apart and don't stay close, lose track of each other but one thing never changes is the close brotherhood we have. R.I.P. Jimmy.
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Did you know?
How long does the Sentinel hesitate after the facing movement to begin the return walk? Is the rifle carried on the same shoulder all the time?
The Sentinel does not execute an about face, rather they stop on the 21st step, then turn and face the Tomb for 21 seconds. They then turn to face back down the mat, change the weapon to the outside shoulder, mentally count off 21 seconds, then step off for another 21 step walk down the mat. They face the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until the the Guard Change ceremony begins.