Training the Honor Guard
6 years ago
by Benjamin Bell, (2001-2004)
In January, SHGTUS received a request to train the Tampa, Florida based Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) Honor Guard.
Back in 2012, several of the officers from the HCSO had trained with the active Tomb Guard component down at the Quarters, and they were looking to brush up on their training and wanted an assessment and tips on the ceremonies surrounding the flag fold over a casket.
John Baker watches as the HCSO honor guard practices a casket flag fold
We reached out to former Sentinel John Baker (2008-12). John recently left the service and started as a police officer for the City of Tampa Police Department. He really enjoyed the opportunity to provide the county force with recommendations and tips - if for nothing more than interdepartmental bragging rights! On March 4th, John and I met with the HCSO team and spent the day with them assessing and doing some team building. It was a good time and pretty easy, since they already looked pretty darn good!
Tragically, eight days later, HCSO lost their 16th officer in the line of duty when Deputy John Kotfila was killed in the line of duty on March 12th. It was truly an honor to provide Tomb Guards and SHGTUS members for this unique opportunity.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Honor Guard escort Deputy Kotfila on March 18th.
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Did you know?
Are the shoes specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet?
The shoes are standard issue military dress shoes. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand with a straight back and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is that the Sentinel can "roll" on the outside of the build up walking down the mat. Done correctly, the hat and bayonet will appear to not "bob" up and down with each step. It gives a more formal, fluid and smooth look to the walk, rather than a "marching" appearance.
The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a "horseshoe" steel plate on the heel. This prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinel to move smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and then back down the mat.
Then there is the "clicker". It is a shank of steel attached to the inside of the face of the heel build-up on each shoe. It allows the Sentinel to heel click during certain movements. A guard change is considered great when all the heel clicks fall together and sound as one click. The guard change is occasionally done in the "silent" mode (as a sign of devotion to the Unknowns) with no voice commands - every thing is done in relation to the heel clicks and on specific counts.