“Honor Guard!” Capt. Andrew Borrebach bellowed to the approximately 250 members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard who lined both sides of Arlington National Cemetery’s mall leading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Attention!” The men and women snapped to attention, standing ramrod straight. About ten minutes later, the captain called out, “Honor Guard! At ease!” Everyone separated their legs and held their rifles away from their bodies with their right hands, while placing their left hands behind their backs.
Capt. Borrebach, the honor guard company commander, was exercising the troops, keeping them from stiffening up as they awaited the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron to lay a wreath at the Tomb on November 30, 2022.
As everyone patiently waited for the president’s motorcade, reporters in the press booth overlooking the Tomb chatted with each other as they tried to stay warm. But not the troops lining the plaza. They remained in place, not moving until ordered by Captain Borrebach; displaying the discipline and bearing of professionals.
Borrebach continued to exercise his troops until a cannon boomed, signaling President Macron’s arrival. Twenty more booms followed. The joint service color guard, standing on both sides of the tomb, came to attention, shouldering their rifles and straightening their flags. A U.S. Army soldier approached the Tomb bearing the wreath, followed by a drummer and bugler.
Upon his arrival, President Macron stood for the playing of the French and American national anthems, before approaching the Tomb with Maj. Gen. Allan M. Pepin, commander of the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Capt. Borrebach called his unit to attention and ordered “Present arms!” just before Macron laid his wreath and stood back in silence. Pepin saluted while the bugler sounded Taps.
Pepin then accompanied Macron to the Memorial Amphitheater’s Display Room, while Borrebach ordered, “Retire the colors!” At that order, the joint service color guard marched off while a noncommissioned officer called out, “One, one, one.” After that, Borrebach ordered all officers to take command of their units, and he watched as they departed as smartly as they had presented themselves during the service.
Col. David B. Roland, commander of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), was impressed with the military performance. “They were fantastic; they hit their marks,” he said after the ceremony. “They did all the things we need to demonstrate a disciplined, fit and ready force to the nation’s partners and allies.”