Arlington, VA

Nearly a dozen people have asked us what the repeated loud “booming” sound was in South Arlington this morning. Now we know the answer.

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment — also known as the Old Guard — was practicing firing canons.

“The Presidential Salute Battery was conducting synchronized firing training within Arlington National Cemetery from approximately 0700-0800,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Coffee, from the Old Guard public affairs office. “The reason the training is conducted at that time is to not interfere with any funerals being conducted at open cemetery hours.”

Residents of Pentagon City, Aurora Highlands, Foxcroft Heights and Columbia Heights reported hearing the noise as early as 6:30 a.m. The sound was alternately described as a “pounding,” “banging,” “booming” or “explosion.”

Update on 4/19/11 — The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment has issued a statement regarding the cannon training.

We thank ARLNow for the opportunity to post to its site. The 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is privileged to serve as the US Army’s premier memorial affairs and ceremonies and special events unit, to honor its fallen comrades, and to represent the Army and its values to the nation’s citizens and the world. As such, we conduct sustainment training to maintain the high standards expected of the Army and specifically conduct ceremonial salute howitzer training outside of Arlington National Cemetery’s normal hours of operation in order to not inconvenience the bereaved during supported funerals for the armed services. In coordination with Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, we will continue to strive to be good neighbors and to closely coordinate our training and operations with local authorities, and we will also continue take measures to ensure our Soldiers continue to demonstrate the Army values, particularly honor and respect.

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