Red Warriors Served as First Honor Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown - 1921
Son Tells of Fathers Service as Red Warrior Honor Guard
My dad, Will King, went in the Army at 14 years old and was assigned to Company L, 12th Infantry Regiment. Company L was posted at Fort Washington, Maryland. I had the pleasure of visiting Fort Washington with my dad back in the 1950 s and we walked all around the place. It was a solid brick and stone fortress built after the War of 1812 directly on the last bend in the Potomac River before Washington, DC.
My dad said they drilled almost constantly since they were the ceremonial unit for DC. I noticed that his promotion to Corporal was signed by someone at Fort Howard but I don t know where that might have been; probably the regimental headquarters.
Anyway, the 12th Infantry stood guard at the Unknown Soldier s coffin while it laid in repose for 3 days at the National Cathedral and then again for 24 hours when it laid in state at the US Capital Rotunda. That picture of the casket with the flag is my dad from the back. On November 11th, 1921 they had a battalion escort that marched from the capital to Arlington Cemetery where the final ceremony was conducted. Notice the chromed bayonets in the picture; I still have my dads. . He had many stories about those few days.
After the burial ceremony the site was left unattended for many years until after WWII when a permanent guard was established.
Red Warrior Corporal Will King (back to camera) stands guard in the Capitol Rotunda , honoring the Unknown Soldier , Nov. 11, 1921
In 1964 I was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment at Arlington and got to bring my dad to the tomb to show him how it had evolved into a big deal; he was quite pleased. Nobody in the 3rd Infantry knew what unit had actually done the original burial ceremony so I was charged with researching it all and that s how I found out so much.
165 Sauga Avenue
North Kingstown, RI 02852
The World War I Unknown lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On November 11, 1921, PresidentWarren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony, the World War I Unknown was awarded the Victoria Cross by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Beatty, on behalf of King GeorgeV of the United Kingdom. (The United Kingdom Victoria Cross was placed with the soldier. Earlier, on March 4, 1921, the British Unknown Warrior was conferred the U.S. Medal of Honor by General of the Armies John Pershing.) In 1928, the Unknown Soldier was presented the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service to America's youth by the Boy Scouts of America
The Roster of Company "L" 12th Infantry - Red Warriors
Corporal Will King - honor Guard at the first Unknown Soldier