tv Sen. Tom Cotton R-AR Sacred Duty CSPAN August 6, 2019 11:45pm-12:39am EDT
>> music ♪ o say can you see by the dawns early light of ♪ what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars music back through the perilous fight ♪ or the ramparts we watched ♪ were so gallantly streaming ♪ and the rockets red glare ♪ the bombs bursting in air
i want to start the air but in a backwards way. 9/11 you into harvard law school. to set up your time in the old guard what did you do after 9/11 how you came into the service and for those on c-span who haven't seen you before, how you ended up at harvard. >> the answer to the last question is probably bad judgment. [applause] [laughter] but i would redeem myself by joining the army years later. [applause] first, let me thank the library for hosting me today and as well as the support for sacred duty on the radio program the last couple of weeks it is a true honor to be here to take a tour of the museum earlier today and learned a little bit more about president nixon and his wife and
his family. tickets to the question on 9/11 i was in a law school classroom in may las my last year of law t harvard and i thought i was going to be a lawyer but from that day forward i knew that my life had changed as did so many fellow americans so i did finish school and worked a couple of years to repay the loans they have taken out for that education. i signed up for the army and i see some recruiters like we have here today. [applause] to discredit the staff sergeant even though he told me dressed like this walking in which probably isn't the typical you have come ask me what i did and i told them i was a lawyer and he said we have a different recruiting process that we can sign you up for that and you get to be a captain if you want to
get overseas faster your training will become a lot faster than as an infantry officer and i said no i want to be an end in tree officer and platoon leader overseas. then the army reassigned me where they had my final assignment in afghanistan with provincial reconstruction team. one of the things you will learn there's a lot of small details a civilian like me has no idea of.
they have a very special observation. if you refuse to jump out of the military aircraft and the observation combat there may be scuba badges but it's only for reasons related to the skills for which you earn a badge. the second there's only been 667 issued in almost 60 years. the rare who joins the army to be an astronaut. but uniquely in th the army, the badge can be revoked not only once a guard links the two of the unknown soldier but even after he leaves the army altogether, and it can be
revoked not for anything related to the performance of the craft of the guarding of the tomb of the unknown soldier, that anything that would bring discredit on the to itself. it's the old guard commander and in fact what they call the board of the court orders that has a little plaque with every guard's name there are several that say revoked for something of misconduct or tract infection one that has left the platoon or the army notably in all of my time with the car over the laste last year i didn't talk to a single guard who thought that was an inappropriate standard or have that much sympathy for those that have later in life had the badge revoked because they have such deep reverence and love for the place and for those unknown soldiers who symbolize all the americans have given their lives in combat. >> let's start before we go to the unknowns because of a great
deal how it was constructed. let's start since we just observed the book sacred duty begins how many of you know what the end of day is? i didn't know until i read sacred duty. so us how you came to "-begin-double-quote wait. >> it's now eight decades of arlington every thursday afternoon kicks off at the ceremonial uniforms and put on its combat critiques anytime they wear those into the cemetery and they do that because it is a military scale operation over the course of a few hours the old guard will place a small american flag in front of every grave in arlington national cemetery. this year it is almost 245,000 flags so they march in with the salt tax and american flags for those of you that have a book you can see the picture in the glossy insert in the middle and kerry in more crates full of
flags so they can stay hydrated during what could be a very long afternoon, it could be hot. that thursday afternoon it wasn't hot. they get very violent thunderstorms and in fact you may have seen some of the pictures on social media the tomb guards putting a flag down of the old guard soldiers kneeling or squatting in the middle of arlington cemetery sections they do that because there's lightning in areas of you to put away their unit colors which have a staff somewhat like those over there. the rangers squad which some of them probably know about and perhaps have done in the lightning storms and training they would stay in the cemetery until they finish the mission of getting all 245,00 245,000 placd that is true for the tomb of the unknown soldier and the john f. kennedy gravesite down to the
unknown grave site individuals interest of serving the civil war whose names are also known only to god and been for the rest of the week they were on the roving patrols and hours of operations at the cemetery to replace the flags that have been taken perhaps by a loved one were to replace the flags that have been damaged by weather and so forth they are sending a message to everyone that visit family, friends or just people that are coming to pay respect to those that have plagued othen their lives in defense of the nation that was a moment in the last few days when a young soldier however brief remembered that american service where it was the service of the word terrorism or in the revolutionary war and it lets them know to let all of this to go to the arlington gaetz no you are not forgotten. >> there are a lot of special people tonight i want to call attention to two of them. the attention to detail that you see in this is largely because of a work who oversaw the
construction with us tonight can you stand with us and say hello. the first lady of the building. [applause] and the director is standing in the back. put your hand up back there. [applause] bikm-mike is a terrific director having been involved in the service as a marine and a dignified transfer of the remains of the last who died in vietnam and it was a touching story and i talked to the senator a little bit later. you've heard a few of the story since the book came out. can you explain the reaction you have? >> i've done five or six signings now for soldiers and their families at fort belvoir and the reagan library tonight t at the nixon library and i've had numerous families who are
and many other people who have maybe a brother or sister served in vietnam or the korean war who shared their stories with me. it just goes to show what i say in the prologue a special place arlington has in the hearts of our fellow americans. >> if you are a gold star family member would you stand up and let us think you? [applause] and if you are a gold star family member can you stand up and let us thank you for who is serving right now. [applause]
i would like to start with what hooked me on the book is of course knowing the senator but he also began with military history after the first chapter the old guard genuinely i think there is a set of novels to be written about this. can you tell people a little bit of the history of the old guard? >> it is the oldest in the army. its roots date back to 1784, three years older than our constitution. ..
>> to form four from the army if there was going to be another war with great britain so they could train and lead volunteer forces so with the old guard and regiments over the next 160 years there is a distinction between the federals and the regulars and state based volunteer militia regiments and the territory that is ohio, indiana going all the way up to minnesota mostly the ohio indiana border classic insurgency conducted
by indian tribes to recognize sovereignty the first two major battles was known as st. clair defeat when you are commander of the military regiment you don't want your name with defeats after them up half man old commander of washington to say you need to whip the troops into shape to train those state -based militias that became the battle of fallen timbers that protected the british from what would become the united states territory.
and marked by their stand and take your hats off to the old guard of the army. >> and there are two traditions in the old guard and as he went through the library today to spot the old guard in the library. so anytime you see president nixon so everybody will be old guard soldiers with inaugurations, state arrival ceremonies for dignitaries.
so to look over the left soldier linda s shoulder a piece of black rather with an inter- piece of brown leather woven into it and that resembles the shoulder straps that the troops carry in the battle of fallen timbers 1794. men based at fort snelling the army authorized as a way to commemorate the old guard long and distinguished history and to this day whether in a presidential library the buck strap is the easiest way to do so. >> to give you ever cs
ceremony a retirement ceremony or review or arrival the old guard marches they will affix the bayonet to the rifle with a seven count drum beat in unison. that is to commemorate the battle of cerro gordo in 1847. but that mexico city campaign there is only one real highway so he dug in artillery in the high ground but they made a fatal mistake to underestimate the ingenuity and audacity from the americans the young
captain was convinced they could flank the high ground with those right infantry troops and then to spend almost an entire day when they launched the attack and then what is soon to be known as the old guard and then to finish off one of those positions they had lost thousands of troops to death or capture and that was robert e-lee.
>> but what inspired me from sacred duty is the job that has many elements can you tell us about what began? >> dover air force base in delaware is the mortuary for several decades now the only one we have left where the remains of soldiers killed overseas returned to the united states. there has always been something like a dignified transfer for the commander of operations experience one - - explained it to me showing pictures of the fifties through the seventies going by different names and customs but always a small recognition when they were returned to their home. but early 2008 and went to the
old guard to perform the mission actually the former captain commander at the time and got the first dover mission and by the time i got there in 2007 those were very common in fact we use a standard duty officer so all those captains at the old guard typically has of these a month and in the spring or summer of 2007 at the height of the surge if you had duty at dover that meant you certainly were going i don't remember not having a mission. and the six man casket team and the black hawk helicopter and the air force base usually
right as the plane is landing and i would be the first one onto the aircraft and those that have been with the first one to carry them off and i performed them many times over the next 16 months once as many as 19 casey's in the dark of night driving blizzards, heat, just like a funeral at arlington. there were remains coming in from theater. >> second week on the new york times what surprises me a
little bit it is somber but inspiring book and people buy it for memorial day or father's day but what really surprised me that every scheduled burial from 9/11 spirit the old guard internal mantra a lot of units doing something every single day these are conducted at the pentagon and the white house in the capital these regiments within the sergeant major purkey could have a corporal there are so many missions happening every single day with these young and inexperienced soldiers. these take a backseat to the funerals. ceremonies can be pushed later in the day or rescheduled or missions can be redefined if that's what it takes if it
scheduled in the cemetery of the old guard is performing it to perfection which is the standard so imagine you are in the cemetery on 9/11 sky is blue and at 9:00 o'clock funerals began four or five or six funerals were conducted and at 937 plane flew west to east hitting the pentagon. and 200 yards from the corner of the cemetery imagine what it would have been like to lay to rest your father or grandfather and now to see that right in the air but they
will continue the mission until those funerals are over then they start at 10:00 o'clock exactly on time and the finished those all day long. the rest of those that were not dedicated dropped everything and changed and put on the combat fatigues. you may say it was the first military unit to deploy to the front lines almost immediately they were sent to the pentagon and then the hours that followed the security at the pentagon and then to assist the military unit with the soldier to lead the recovery of the remains at the crash site with personal effects and
then the full guard duty at fort myers as well. with their body armor with the military police with the army generals and despite all that to perform funerals every single day after 9/11 just like they did last december whenever the world was transfixed in arlington national cemetery they are never canceled. >> and they have to be perfect can you explain? >> it is drilled into their mind and that they are no fail mission. most things in the army if you make a mistake it's not always
true but if you are in a training environment or stateside but there are no do overs in arlington national they may perform 20 or 30 funerals a day a day may do six or seven but for each of those families that is a once-in-a-lifetime moment in the making and the old guard soldier internalizes that respect to make everything perfect from his uniform to his craft to one minute 55 seconds on the nose and let nothing tomorrow that final perfect owner of the comrade we lay to rest. >> i cannot remain - - the name of the soldier involved he presented the flag in the way that i thought was perfect but it wasn't and he turned himself in spirit that's a
great story actually he was older than i was on 9/11 and nonetheless enlisted maybe the oldest soldier in the old guard with the regimen regiment sergeant major a noncommissioned officer in charge of the head of the casket he took the bike from the casket team walking over to the next of kin took any and he the order on behalf of the president of the united states and he said the army and then caught himself and said the president nobody heard it. the chaplain didn't hear it. the civilian volunteer representing the chief of staff of the army did not hear
it. he could have gotten away with it. but he didn't because the old guard expects perfection from it soldiers and just like the army teaches them to uphold that highest integrity he got back to the bus and called the ceremonial affairs office and reported himself as the infraction and the captain in charge to recommend that he would be decertified but he sat on that for a couple days and made him retest only on the condolences that he passed very easily instead all of it which could take another two months. so he went down to the charlie company with a sign one morning during formation he gave the sergeant a commanders coin for excellence.
that puzzled a lot of the young soldiers because they knew he made a mistake and reported himself everybody was waiting to hear what would happen to sergeant mcallister he said i don't want you to get the wrong impression i'm not encouraging you to make mistakes we encourage perfection but even more than that you have to pull the standards of integrity of this regiment and army and the american people expect on their behalf at arlington national cemetery this is a fine example of a soldier with outstanding integrity when nobody is watching he turned himself in i want you all to follow everything that you do for as long as you are in the united states army as long as you are a citizen of this country. >>host: you are a ranger and rangers lead the way as the motto coming out of the surge from baghdad can you explain
how you were selected for the old guard? and what is the difference and how did that change you? >> it is a volunteer only african unit they are recruited with their high standards on behalf of the nation and that prominent mission if height and weight standards very high test scores. they have no character flaws are legal blemishes. there are additional eligibility requirements and
they really wanted to have that combat tour because at the company level before going to a unit like the old guard we still had about one month to go i got an e-mail that said it's been except it was just curious because i did not submit an application so i called the personnel officer and said i have a e-mail this is i'm supposed to report in february. why was i selected? he said you are one of those guys paragraph first i was apprehensive. i said what do you mean he said we were able to and
select six officers so i was excited normally fewer hand selected the means you performed well with greater responsibility and i said how did you hand select me? he said we went to the ordinary criteria and to search personnel records and i said there must be more than six of us he said they were as a couple hundred so now i think it's because my superior performance so how did you pick us? he rank order due by height and chose the six tallest. [laughter] and sure enough about three months months later there were six new captains we all had combat badges on our shoulder just deploying 6-foot 7 inches six or 5 inches and the other for our 6-foot 3 inches and we
look out - - look good out there the tomb of the unknown soldier is a very special unique it only has 25 or 30 soldiers at any given time fully qualified to guards they can perform everything on their own they can earn the badge that takes about 12 months you can be a female soldier asked the tomb there have been four who are women during various stages they walk matt during hours of operation which normally it is outside of hours of operation and the way they earn that for
the most part where they stand in a corner and at a quarter till then they are quizzed on trivia questions with 80 pages of knowledge of the people buried there whoever wins the quiz is told three minutes go they run down the hallway to the locker room to get in uniform in three minutes or less and back ready to go on to the plaza. that is a way to stress how they have to always be ready in case something happens that requires them to be ready to go in just three minutes ago i saw that happened many times not just the training exercise because you still have to pass three minute go if you win trivia competition before you get out the door people have failed at that as well but i also saw bringing that in the
hasty fashion is somebody was getting ready to go maybe the buckle fell off there's no way to fix that otherwise standing around in a polo shirt has to go down to be ready to go because whatever happens in those quarters you get the hour or the half-hour ones that bill goes off the door is opening in the tomb guard is going out that door for the changing of the guard to make senator cotton has to hit the airport because arkansas is under duress. >> we have a lot of putting in many communities we will tour tomorrow with our governor and emergency management officials. >> i can literally talk to him two hours about the book it is an extraordinary read you
won't want to put it down but tell us the story how the tomb of the unknown soldier came to be. how many of been there? the history is fascinating. the short version. >> the first war large numbers of americans killed overseas obviously the mexican american war or the spanish-american war or the philippines during the insurrection at the turn-of-the-century but not more than 117,000 americans and then these were adopted in large measure but for the most part they were buried as was custom after lobbying by war
widows and return the remains of any soldier that was over the objection of army leaders but they lobbied congress so guess who typically wins. [laughter] so 30 or 40000 that is one reason why we have all those cemeteries in france for the most part they are possible but then what do we do with the number of unknown remains if there is no identity. there was a debate but never really settled armistice day now veterans day when the united kingdom and heard the unknown soldier at westminster abbey under the arc de triomphe hundreds of thousands of french or british citizens turned out to honor those in that galvanized public opinion to help congress pass a bill
that is already under consideration to give the army about eight months to prepare for the internment of the first unknown november 111921 there was the elaborate selection process to ensure there was no way to identify the unknown and all records were destroyed and in the middle of the night with no other active duty soldiers with those four sets of remains to be removed around so they don't know what came from which cemetery and a highly decorated veteran was given a bouquet of roses and he said his buddy was calling out to him but he put the
roses on the casket that was the number one unknown transport is great and fair on a ship back to that navy in washington dc with the reception fitting of the general there was a state funeral and procession and then warren harding interred him armistice day it was very small it was ten years until there was a competition which is known as the tomb of the unknown soldier through the early thirties they went to various stages of cards and a guard at the empathy also watching over the tomb during hours of operation july 2nd
1937 they began to guard the tomb around the clock and ever since then which the old guard is done since 1948. >> with that i will take three questions from the audience so the senator can get to the book signing but chris has a microphone. >> our first question is from one of the members he is father to a friend of mine who lost his life and what is your question our son and the gentleman he died with were honored at the tomb 2005. when they were doing faces of the fallen i don't know if you remember that at the memorial and one of the things we learned is classmates had chosen the third infantry and
we were under the impression is that a step above career military to serve quick. >> it is. not for me but not many people have a chance to do it but it gives another step of command and leadership positions i was a 2-liter with the old guard and jason that i write about in the book and the regimental commander so especially for those that make a career out of the military and to be in trust it was such a sensitive
job but especially for those young pilots. . . . . they haven't been advancing as an infantryman, and one thing i try to drive home as a platoon leader and also some of the young soldiers like that over the year, you can learn how come a small unit tactics at the squad level. those don't take that long to pick up. you have the intangible skills at the olthat the old guard, le,
discipline, mission focus, handling ambiguous situations with imperfect information. that is the things that the army values the most and you may go on to the airborne in a diddley and within six months he will be fine. they will never have the experience having to perform ine presidential inauguration as a corporal with no guidance above. they will never have the experience during the ceremonies those are the kind of things you can't learn anywhere else and that's why so many soldiers go on to perform jobs of greater responsibility in the military. >> thank you for your sacrifice and that of your family. >> hi school studen student and. what is your question?
>> what words of wisdom would you have for a young man wanting to join the service? >> joined the army. [applause] you might say that it's the highest educated element in the army almost everyone there has a college degree. many of them have masters and a handful of doctorates. if you want to be, there are a few places to do it better than the four player but i would say to you or any young people in the audience whether you are 18 or 22 or like me, 27 you will never go wrong joining. i know you may have doubts. the army takes all kinds.
it takes the quarterback and it turns them into soldiers and what you will gain in three or four years serving the country is something you cannot gain anywhere else you won't get it in college or the workforce. you will learn not just skills but some of the skills i was scs talking about earlier but most importantly serving something greater than yourself and respect of your fellow citizens. so if you are thinking of joining the military, you should do it and the army as well. the iowa to remind everyone
first we do have books for sale so pick one up if you don't have one. the senator will be signing copies of the vote to keep in mind he has to get back to his home state to take care of business. last question. >> thanks for your service. appreciate it. my dad was at arlington last year. he passed away. he was a sailor and i wondered if the relationship between the other services. >> all five services have a ceremonial unit. the old guard is by far the largest is it is by far the largest service especially in world war ii and korea and vietnam said to give a sense of scale it's about 1500 soldiers