Jack Eaton, 100 Year Old WWII Veteran Honored for Guarding Tomb of the Unknowns
Jack Eaton, a WWII veteran, was finally honored on October 23 for being a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was an Army Corporal who served as a guard at the Tomb from January 1938 to the end of December 1939 (1938-1940). He’s the oldest living Tomb guard at 100 years.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. Two years ago he visited the Tomb at Arlington, only to note that his name was not listed among the plaques displayed of living Tomb Guards. He inquired, and the officials did an investigation to find that yes, he did serve as a Tomb guard. A plaque in his honor was reportedly erected…but…
In 2018, he again visited Arlington via the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight… but his plaque had been “displaced” so it was still not there. Jack Eaton was disappointed again.
“He was very upset. Someone described it as a five-year-old who was told their birthday party had been cancelled.” Brenda Warburton, Eaton’s stepdaughter
The wait was worth it, as he finally received the honor he deserved on Wednesday, October 23. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight secured a flight to Washington on American Airlines.
The spry 100-year-old received gifts from American Airlines and other organizations, and stood for seemingly every person that shook his hand.
Eaton marched with the Honor Guard and the Patriot Guard Riders across North Terminal as hundreds of travelers, some visibly emotional, erupted in cheers as he walked by.
Scott Hungerford of the Patriot Guard Riders said the event was special because of Eaton’s status as a Tomb sentinel and a centennial.
Corinne Shields is part of the Willow Run Tribute Rosies, who dress up as Rosie the Riveter and greet veterans at events like this one. A few Rosies followed the procession through North Terminal.
His plaque wasn’t missing this time. The disappointment dissolved as he was directed to the Pentagon, where the Deputy Secretary of Defense, David L. Norquist, presented Jack Eaton with a Pentagon flag and certificate.
“I really like (knowing) that it’s happened. This is a thing I’ve been wanting…I appreciate everything you people are doing here. I just can’t believe that this is happening. I don’t think I did that much — I was just doing what I was supposed to do.” Jack Eaton
Jack finally got his wish.
Featured photo via Dvidshub: Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist presents WWII veteran Jack Eaton with a Pentagon flag and certificate at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 2019. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee) Public Domain