Five Years After... we remember SSG Adam Dickmyer
8 years ago
Adam L. Dickmyer was born on February 2, 1984 in York, Pennsylvania. He attended Mineral Springs Elementary and Middle Schools before graduating from Carver High School in 2002, where he participated in Reserved Officers' Training Corps. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman in 2003. Upon completion of basic training he attended the US Army Airborne school before his first assignment with the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
In April 2004, he was assigned to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS) as 2nd Relief Commander, and eventually was given the responsibilities as the Assistant Sergeant of the Guard. He also served as the official ‘Voice of the Old Guard’ in audio guided tours of Arlington Cemetery. He served with distinction and was promoted to Staff Sergeant, and awarded the Tomb Guard Identification Badge (TGIB) # 528, which is the second least awarded badge in the US Army.
Even though he admitted to his family that the duty took a physical toll on his knees, ankles, and feet he felt tremendous pride in service as a Sentinel. In his own words taken from the book “On Hallowed Ground” by Robert Poole, SSG Dickmyer said, "We take it one step further because we are so visible. Thousands of people see us every day - more come here than go to the Jefferson Memorial - so we want to make the best possible impression. And we want the guys who sacrificed everything to know that they are still remembered, that someone still cares. That's why we do it."
Former Sentinel Nathan Luman (2003-05), remembers “He always showed respect and carried himself like a Tomb Guard from day one. We all like to tell each other how hard it was back in our time as a new man with each new generation not having it nearly as tough as the previous generation... Dickmyer was one of the guys who would've made it no matter when he tried out. I could tell that about him.”
In September of 2007, SSG Dickmyer was re-assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, Echo Company where he served as the Casket Team Leader for the Joint Services State Funeral Team for two years. He was personally selected to be the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) and in August 2009 led the Joint Services State Funeral Casket Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.
SSG Dickmyer sought to develop his leadership skills and had the desire to serve oversees in combat so that he could be the best possible leader to the Soldiers serving under his direction. With this in mind, in 2009 SSG Dickmyer was assigned to the 3rd Platoon, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Hi unit deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan with CJTF-101 within months of his arriving at Fort Campbell, and was given the daunting task of working in the volatile Afghan provinces adjacent to the Federally Administered Tribal Area of western Pakistan.
In an interview after his death, Captain David Forsha who was the A Company Commander, attested to SSG Dickmyer's leadership abilities remembering: “By the time we deployed, I knew SSG Dickmyer was fully capable of leading his squad in combat. Within a few weeks, I would come to realize he was ready to lead a platoon. In June, SSG Dickmyer was selected to serve as the Platoon Sergeant for 3rd Platoon, and he excelled in one of the most coveted positions a Non-Commissioned Officer can hold.”
On October 28, 2010 SSG Adam Dickmyer, while acting as Platoon Sergeant, was killed in action near Kandahar, Afghanistan during a dismounted patrol by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). SSG Dickmyer was his platoon to the Arghandab River, a feat no unit had accomplished. He died while leading his men into this important, but uncharted terrain. SSG Dickmyer became the third Tomb Guard in history to be killed in action.
Staff Sergeant Dickmyer’s award and decorations include: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (6 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal (2nd Award), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO International Security Assistance Force Medal, Army Superior Unit Award, , Combat Infantryman's Badge , Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge, Tomb Guard Identification Badge, and the German Troop Proficiency Badge (Gold).
SSG Dickmyer was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, with many of the Soldiers he trained and led carrying him to his final rest.
Sentinels and brothers in arms solemnly watch the memorial service for SSG Adam L. Dickmyer
Former Tomb Guard Adam Newman (2005-06) thinks of his brother Tomb Guard and says, “I miss you bud. I wear your bracelet daily. Thanks for giving me a chance, thanks for believing in me. I still work every day to live the standards you taught me.”
Private First Class Michael Young, who served with SSG Dickmyer in Afghanistan, shared his memories during the memorial service in Afghanistan, “I looked up to SSG Dickmyer like a brother. He was more than I could dream of as a role model-- always pushing me mentally, physically, personally, and professionally. SSG Dickmyer is 95% of the reason I’m here and successful today. In my worst times, when I was just ready to leave the platoon and the Army, he spent countless hours of his time, whether he had the time or not, to talk sense to me and get me to stay.”
Former Tomb Guard Chase Neely (2006-09) remembers “You were a good leader and a good friend. You are missed by everyone. Thank you for seeing my potential and encouraging me to push forward.”
SSG Dickmyer is buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Video of SSG Dickmyer conducing the Changing of the Guard:
Legacy Member Mindy Dickmyer shares her thoughts on the anniversary of her husband’s death at: http://otherwar.com/video-portrait-mindy-dickmyer/
Photo by Rex Looney
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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.