Pfc. Jacob Davenport, infantryman, 3d U.S.
Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), guards the Tomb of the Unknown
soldier, December 21, 2012 in Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
Davenport, who is currently in training to become a Tomb guard,
hopes to follow in his great-uncle's footsteps. His uncle served as
a Tomb Sentinel from July 1957 until August 1958. (U.S. Army photo
by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)
Pfc. Jacob Davenport, infantryman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), visits the gravesite of his great-uncle, Col. (ret.) Talmadge N. Gilley, Jr.,
December 17, 2012 in Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Gilley, Jr. served as a Tomb Sentinel from July 1957 until August 1958. Davenport, who is currently in training to become a Tomb guard, hopes to follow in his great-uncle's footsteps. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)
ARLINGTON, Va. (12/28/2012) - There are crucial moments in life
that define the person we are and are going to be. For Pfc. Jacob
Davenport, it was when his great-uncle, Col. (ret.) Talmadge N.
Gilley, Jr., died.
Gilley Jr. passed away July 18, 2009. On
the day of his funeral, Davenport decided he wanted nothing more
than the opportunity to walk in his great-uncle's footsteps and
become a Tomb guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington
National Cemetery, Va. [ANC]
“His ceremony was beautiful. He
had a full honors burial at ANC. I was very sad to have lost him,
but I was glad that he was in my life,” said Davenport, infantryman,
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment
(The Old Guard). “I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where my
great-uncle guarded all those years ago, and I knew that I wanted to
join The Old Guard and become a Sentinel one day.”
Davenport's chance came in March of 2012 when he enlisted into the
United States Army. After arriving to The Old Guard in July,
Davenport immediately volunteered to go to the Tomb. Now, six months
into training, Davenport is already proving to his trainers that he
has what it takes.
“It is very tough and challenging for
soldiers down here. We are the standards of perfection, but I see
that Davenport quickly understands the training and the Sentinel
philosophy,” said Sgt. Erik McGuire, Tomb Sentinel team leader.
Davenport attributes his aptitude to the lessons he learned from
his great-uncle who served as a Sentinel from July 1957 until August
“My uncle wanted to serve those men who died in combat,
whose names and identities no one knows,” said Davenport. “He wanted
to keep these men guarded, and so do I.”
McGuire said it was
clear that something more was pushing Davenport.
even know that he was related to a Tomb Sentinel when he first got
here,” said McGuire. “I joked with him later about it when I told
him it must be in your blood because he is pretty squared away.”
Davenport's dedication was apparent even before he started the
“I noticed before he was assigned to us
that Davenport spent many hours outside just watching the Sentinels
and the Changing of the Guard on his own time,” said McGuire.
The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony in which a new Tomb
guard is inspected by a relief commander before replacing the Tomb
guard on duty. Davenport said watching this ceremony brought back
“I used to sit down and listen to my
uncle's stories about serving as a Sentinel and I remember just
being amazed by it all,” said Davenport. “I love watching the
changing of the guard because it reminded me of my great-uncle and
what he did. It is great how they have kept this high standard for
all these years.”