The Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier hold among the most revered posts in the U.S. armed forces, so it makes sense that they should have a sidearm to match.
Sig Sauer will present a cache of four specially-designed 9mm M17 pistols to Tomb Guard Platoon of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the company announced on Oct. 3.
Created to the same specs as the M17's adopted as part of the Army's Modular Handgun System and fielded to soldiers earlier this year, the ceremonial M17 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Pistols are distinguished by a stainless steel slide and a custom wood and aluminum grip.
More importantly, each of the four pistols will have a unique name: Silence, Respect, Dignity, or Perseverance.
The names are tributes to the special mission of the Old Guard, per Sig Sauer: "Dignity and Perseverance represent 'The Sentinel’s Creed,' and Silence and Respect represent the request to the public by Arlington National Cemetery when visiting the Tomb of the Unknown, and during the Changing of the Guard."
Here are some other unique features of M17 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Pistols, per Sig Sauer:
Custom Wood Grips: in 1921 the chosen Unknown was transported to the United States of America aboard the USS Olympia. The custom wood grips are made with wood from the USS Olympia and include the crest of the 3rd Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier identification badge inset;
Cocking Serrations: XXI cocking serrations are engraved on the slide to signify the twenty-one steps it takes for the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknowns and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute;
Sight Plate: an engraved impression of the Greek Figures featured on the east panel of the Tomb – Peace, Victory, and Valor – are featured on the sight plate;
Sights: a glass insert made with marble dust from the Tomb of the Unknown fills the sights of the ceremonial pistols;
Engraved Magazines: the 21-round magazines feature an aluminum base plate engraved with the names of the Greek figures featured on the Tomb of the Unknown – Peace, Victory, and Valor – and include a nameplate on the bottom of the magazine engraved with the Tomb Sentinel badge number.
The Old Guard will officially accept the pistols in a ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony followed by a Changing of the Guard that will formally enter the M17 pistols into rotation. Here's what that will likely look like, according to this remarkable 2017 video from the Old Guard:
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