Charles W. Yinger
Tomb DatesNov 1936 - Nov 1937
ObituaryCharles W. Yinger died Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at The Brunswick at Longstown. He was 93 and had been the oldest living Tomb Guard for about 12 years. He joined the Army in 1936 when he was 16 years old. His mother had to sign consent papers. He stopped attending school after eighth grade because he thought it was more important to work. He tried to get jobs on farms and in mines to help support his family, but he had trouble finding work because of his age. While at Fort Myer, Yinger rubbed elbows with key players in American politics and military. He said he saddled ponies for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's children and polo ponies for Gen. George S. Patton Jr.. He said he stood third in line during the president's inaugural parade. In 1939, he was assigned to the 14th Infantry and guarded the Panama Canal. When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, he had a choice to go to Europe or to the Pacific to fight. He chose the Pacific. President Roosevelt called for people to volunteer for a secret mission, which eventually came to be known as Merrill's Marauders, in Burma. Yinger was among the 3,000 Americans who fought commando combat, attempting to push out a much larger force of Japanese Imperial Marines and reopen Burma Road to transport supplies to China. Because American troops were out numbered, they traveled through the jungle on mules between battles and skirmishes. Many Americans fought the 14-month mission while suffering from typhus, malaria and dysentery. Yinger was hospitalized twice.
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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.