The sentinels stand watch over the three unknown Soldiers 365 days a year, through pouring rain, blizzard-like snow and scorching heat. And they do it in all-wool dress uniforms. They can add cold weather gear or rain gear, but can't change into lighter uniforms during Washington's notoriously hot and humid summers.
"We try to take as many precautions to prepare for it as we can," said Gilliam. "But part of it is, you just have to tough it out. Wintertime to me-I don't like the cold at all-so the wintertime is a lot tougher than the summer. Summertime is over 100 degrees (in) 100-percent wool (uniforms). It can definitely get pretty hot. We do in the summertime, 30-minute shifts. It's not overwhelming, but you have to prepare your body, stay hydrated. The physical aspect wears down on the Soldiers, especially guys who've been here over two or three summers."
It does have an up side, however, said Mancha. Extreme-weather days are his favorite times guarding the tomb.
"It's actually very motivating, believe it or not," he said. "Some Soldiers like the heat. Some Soldiers like the cold. Snow-snow's an awesome time to walk. There's not a lot of crowd that comes around. That's not what we focus on, but to be out here by yourself, (whether it's) 100 degrees or negative-10, it gets very motivating. You're dreading it at first, but when you get out here and you're by yourself, it's just you and the unknowns, and you're doing something special, something nobody else wanted to do. Guarding the unknowns at 2 a.m. in 10-degree weather, it motivates you.