U.S. Army Capt. Carrie Wibben is the first of her kind. The 26-year-old graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point is the first woman to be selected commander of the guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.
Webben presently commands the 269th Military Police, attached to H-Company, 3rd United States Infantry Regiment. Come May the captain who graduated from West Point in 2000, will take command of the spit and polished soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of a special company of the 3rd Infantry Regiment known as The Old Guard.
Her parents, Bob and Barbara Priborsky, live in Port Charlotte, Fla. Until recently they owned the Breakers Restaurant on Bayshore Road along the Peace River in Charlotte Harbor.
To be a member of Capt. Wibben’s elite group of sentinels a soldier first has to be a member of the 3rd Infantry Regiment. Then the soldier must request permission to become a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If considered, the applicant must pass months of tests and training courses.
“A guard must be a certain size and stature,” Wibben said. “He must have a defined look. Appearance is important.”
In her case, she graduated from West Point as a 2nd lieutenant and became a platoon leader with an MP company in Kitzingen, Germany. Her next assignment was as a 1st lieutenant serving as an intelligent offer with an MP unit in Bavaria. From there she was posted to the 282nd MP Company, 3rd Infantry Regiment in June and promoted to captain.
The Old Guard was looking for the first woman to replace the male captain who currently commands the unit guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns. She fit the bill.
“I was surprised when my commanding officer put my name in for the job,” she said. “When I was offered the position it was such an honor I couldn’t turn it down.”
Wibben expects to be in her new job for at least a year and possibly two. She and the 29 non-commissioned offers and enlisted men who guard the tomb quickly find it’s an exacting and demanding tour of duty.
“I’m still trying to take it all in. It’s such an honor. I’ll do the best job I can,” she said when asked how she felt about being selected as the first woman commander of the tomb guard.
A story in “Guidon,” the Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. weekly paper, about her selection as the first woman commander of The Old Guard’s tomb sentinels quoted Wibben as saying, “I think many people are unaware they possess leadership potential until they are put into a leadership role. I didn’t know I was a leader until I was given the opportunity to lead.”
The story goes on to say, “Now this military police officer is leading the way for military police and females in the oldest active unit. The female sentinel is rare. There have only been a few women Marines serving as guards for the tomb since sentinels began standing by in 1948.
“Webber, who has been an officer in The Old Guard since June 2003 will begin her transition to commander of the Guard in late April.”
Her mom said of her over-achieving daughter, “I couldn’t be prouder of her. I know she is well-trained and I don’t worry about her.”
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, March 29, 2004 and is republished with permission.
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