For the first time ever on Wednesday, an all-female guard shift guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — the monument dedicated to the memories of the service members whose remains have not been identified.
On Friday, the official Twitter account of the 3rd Infantry Regiment announced the all-female guard change. The 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” is the ceremonial unit charged with maintaining continuous guard watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“On a recent Autumn morning at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in @ArlingtonNatl, history was made. For the first time in the 84-year vigil, on the 30770th day of continuous guarding, an all-female guard change occurred with the 38th Sergeant of the Guard. #Tomb100,” The Old Guard tweeted.
The all-female change of the guard was led by Sgt 1st Class Chelsea Porter; the 38th Sergeant of the Guard and the first female to hold the position. The guard change came as Porterfield was preparing to take her final walk, according to Col. Patrick Roddy, the commander of the 3rd Infantry Regiment.
“It wasn’t anyone’s intent to ‘engineer’ this event, but we knew an event like this had significant meaning,” he added. “So in honor of SFC Porterfield’s service, and at her request, the schedules were aligned for the first all-woman changing of the guard as part of her last walk,” Roddy told Task & Purpose.
On Wednesday, The Old Guard tweeted, “Today, Sergeant of the Guard SFC Chelsea Porterfield completed her final walk at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As the 38th Sergeant of the Guard, she is the 1st female to hold this position. Thank you for your countless hours of service and leading the way for future Soldiers.”
Roddy said, “This was really about recognizing SFC Porterfield’s service to the Tomb during her tenure there.”
“We recognized this is important, which is why we’ve shared it,” Roddy added, “but at the same time didn’t want to make it a spectacle due to the solemn nature of their mission and [the] continual dedicated service of all who walk and have walked the mat continuously for 84 years.”