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U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard

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Overall, it’s not exactly the type of life most recruits imagine when they are entering the final days of boot camp. It may even sound like something the Navy forces groups of new Sailors to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are qualifications each potential guard member must meet, every person sent to ceremonial guard duty chooses the assignment during boot camp. In return for the assignment, most selectees voluntarily put off ‘A’ school for the chance to go to Washington, D.C. During their two years with the guard, Once the trainees complete the six-week period, the other, more-experienced members finally recognize them as full guardsmen. It is a moment the trainees look forward to. Those Sailors selecting ‘A’ schools cannot advance past E-3.

Despite that, the choice is an easy one for some.

“For me, it was a chance to do something that not many other people get to do,” Ramspott said of his decision to join the Ceremonial Guard. “Most of us end up getting guaranteed ‘A’ schools after, but the main thing for me is to get the chance to represent the entire Navy everyday. It’s a very big honor.”

Those without ‘A’ schools are eligible to advance to petty officer third class in rates not requiring ‘A’ schools.

When they do join and become guardsmen, they get opportunities most other Sailors never receive. Many current guard members have been on hand for special ceremonies at the White House, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at ship commissionings and other events. Chvosta fondly remembers one such event.

“I realized the importance of what I do when I was there for the announcement of the name of CVN 77 – USS George H.W. Bush. I was standing near [Bush] for the ceremony. I was a part of history in a way. Nothing tops that.”

In the little bit of free time they have, trainees are able to enjoy the comforts of their barracks rooms, which are comparable in quality to a hotel chain. “They’re nice rooms for sure,” said SA Chesed Johnson. “With some of the other fleet Sailors I’ve talked to, I can see we have it pretty good. They’re like a miniature two-bedroom apartment. They have to be better than most other barracks in the fleet.”

Once the trainees complete the six-week period, the other, more-experienced members finally recognize them as full guardsmen. It is a moment the trainees look forward to.

“I’m not sure what it’s going to feel like, but I can’t wait,” Simpson said. “I know we are all pretty much E-2s and E-3s, but having their respect means a lot to us. It’s something we work for from the second we get here.”

After their six-week training period, the former trainees then join 1st Division in one of the firing party and casket bearer platoons, or 2nd Division in one of the drill team and colors platoons.

Deciding who goes where in the command is a tough process, according to Konkol. “We really look at three things when deciding that,” he said. “We always try to go with the desires of the individual, but we also want to take a look at the skills of the trainee. Sometimes a person will stand out in certain areas more than others. And there is always the manning issue. We have to do things that will keep us at the proper manning level in each platoon.”

And for former trainees, that point is when they first feel they have achieved a certain level of perfection. “You feel invincible for a little while,” Bartlett said of his first days as an official guard member. “In a way, it’s one of the proudest moments of your life here.”

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