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Mystery Solved: Military Was Firing Cannons This Morning

by ARLnow.com April 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm 7,852 85 Comments

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.

Military photo

  • KLB

    Yep, 700 is definitely a lie. It was certainly as early as 630, and would still be inappropriately early at 700. When do funerals start?

  • KLB

    To answer my own question – http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/funeral_information/guide.pih.html#funeralHours.

    Funerals – 0900-1500
    Regular Hours – 0800-1700

  • KalashniKEV

    1) It’s a weekday. Everyone should be awake by 0600.
    2) Do you really think your beauty sleep is more important than the Arlington National Cemetery Honor Guard? A lot of us have friends in there who aren’t going to wake up. Get some sense.
    3) Please move to Fairfax.

    • Susan

      1) Not everyone works “banking hours”, some people don’t get home until VERY late. Perhaps we could have them shot them off in the middle of the night, and disturb YOUR sleep.
      2)Delaying the firing a half an hour or an hour won’t bring any of the dead back to life. And I am Army too by the way.
      3)Move yourself to Fairfax!

      • KalashniKEV

        1) I was kidding.
        2) Nothing’s going to bring them back.
        3) I don’t believe you.

        • mehoo

          It’s so easy to weasel out from under information that “refudiates” you, huh Kev? Just say someone is lying! Voila!

          • KalashniKEV

            “I’m Army” sounds like something some DAC would say…

          • mehoo

            I don’t believe you.

        • Susan

          Co C 809th Battalion, Ft Belvoir, for 8 years, and DAMN PROUD OF IT. And I too have lots of friends that aren’t coming back, so BELIEVE IT!

      • If you really were in the Army then you should be used to them doing stupid s— by now.

      • If you were really are in the army you should be used to them doing stupid sh!t by now.

        • Westover

          😀 it’s only funny ’cause it’s true!

    • Westover

      1) Young kids, toddlers and infants should not be awaken at 0600.
      2) Friends in there would perfectly understand why waiting until 0800 would be appropriate in this urban setting.
      3) To each their own in their choice of living locations.
      3b) Semper Fi

      • KalashniKEV

        1) You’re right. You changed my mind. Postpone D&C rehearsal for the civilians. It’s for the children!
        2) No, they wouldn’t. That’s why they did it at 0630. They don’t care. I don’t either.
        3) Don’t move next to Arlington National Cemetery and complain about cannon salutes. Don’t move next to DCA and complain about aircraft noise.
        XVII) I messed up my numbering convention.

        • mehoo

          Don’t move to Arlington and complain about liberals, the homeless and illegal immigrants.

          Better, yet, Kev, move away from Arlington.

          • Westover

            I moved back across the line into Arlington to waterdown the liberalism, improve the resident homeownership numbers, and have easier access to affordable lawn care labor. 😉

          • KalashniKEV

            +1000
            The gardening really is second to none. As much as I’d love to trim down the Fed and have those folks care for my plants, I don’t think they could ever approach the same quality level. Your post makes me want to grant more visas for unskilled labor…

          • Westover

            10k unskilled visas a year is FAR too few.

  • Arlington Lawyer

    I specifically recall checking my phone at 6:34 a.m. when the first round began. They then seemed to do them in bursts (perhaps bursts of 21) every 10-15 minutes or so and continued at least through 8:30. A little notice would’ve been nice. Living a half mile from the Pentagon, one is sometimes a bit on edge.

  • ArlingtonLawyerNo

    Arlington Lawyer, please tell me how much of a notice you require so that you aren’t disturbed the next time this horrendous act is conducted. Get a life. There are bigger issues out there. Just sayin’

    • Arlington Lawyer

      You’re right, guy. There are bigger issues. I assume you’re dedicating 100% of your waking hours to world peace? No? Well, until then, I’m going to go ahead and reserve the right to talk about other stuff, too. How hard would it have been to put out a freakin’ press release?

    • Deb

      “Living a half mile from the Pentagon, one is sometimes a bit on edge.”

      I agree, advance notice would be helpful, just so people know the noise is not an indication of an emergency situation. And at what point did Arlington Lawyer call this a “horrendous act”? I don’t understand why so many of the comments on this blog are so nasty.

    • SouthArlJD

      Yeah, Arlington Lawyer! Get a life. It’s not like anyone has ever launched a mass-murdering terrorist attack on the Pentagon or anything … oh, wait.

  • jan

    So the dead are to be more respected than the living?

    This is just military hooliganism.

    • Westover

      You have the right to write what you just did because of many of those dead military hooligans laying there in the cemetary. Show some respect.

      • mehoo

        He didn’t call the dead hooligans. Read carefully.

        • Westover

          The dead in there are all either military or family of military, so simple logic tells me jan was disrespecting the dead with the last sentance.

          • mehoo

            No. That’s not even remotely what jan said. You’re kind of proving his/her point too.

      • KalashniKEV

        I’m pretty sure that was a facetious post… although I’m always hoping most of what I read on here is facetious when it’s not…

      • jan

        That’s right. But showing respect does not mean willingness to be arbitrarily being awakened by the sound of cannon. How frightening!

        • Westover

          OK, but a commander having a brain fart in terms of scheduling should not be equated to hooliganism. Unlike real hooligans, these guys will likely learn from this timing mistake.

        • jan

          Clarification: The brass who decided to practice at 6:30 am are hooligans throwing their weight around and having a little sick fun at our expense.

          • KalashniKEV

            Take some Zoloft, you’ll feel better.

  • OX4

    I thought North Arlington was finally invading South Arlington.

    • Eponymous Coward

      What would ever compel us to do that? Firing on them – sure, but invading suggests we’d actually want it.

      • Lou

        Plunder and booty.

        • KalashniKEV

          Lots of Booty in S. Arlington… BIG Booty!

          • Eponymous Coward

            I am persuaded. Run up the jolly roger.

          • KalashniKEV

            You’re on your own with that one- I prefer N. Arlington YOGABooty. Plus, we would be fielding a small force of Combat Veterans in the North (while our libs cower) and we’d be going up against current and former Transnational Jihadis, Somali Pirates, MS-13… I actually think we’d get stomped for real.

      • OX4

        We had 3 artillery cards collected, and we had to put our armies in place to attack Alexandria.

        • Thes

          Risky post there, OX4…

        • Jezebel

          I always thought we’d move on little Falls Church first. Get practice, you know? Then turn on Alexandria. [Yeah, the natives are a little restless.]

    • Tre

      South Arlington were using the cannons as anti-aircraft fire from our morning F-16 air raids.

  • brendan

    didn’t hear it but sounds very obnoxious.

  • NomNom

    Interesting. I imagined the noises to be from cars driving over the string of metal plates laid out on Columbia Pike in front of the Sienna. Glad to know the scoop.

    • ArlSnowGal

      Ah, just noticing we were of like minds, but I thought the plates were much closer to me.

  • Westover

    The sound of freedom!!

  • KalashniKEV

    At least it wasn’t a South Arlington Mujahideen trying to wage jihad in North Arlington.

    • South Arlington

      You already have a pretty huge sleeper cell living in the expansive Courthouse slums between 50 and Clarendon Blvd.

      • KalashniKEV

        Don’t worry. I’ve got my eye on them. 😉

      • Curious George

        Between the F16s and the cannon they are probably awake now.

  • Chris Slatt

    I assumed it was construction noise from the old DISA building renovation. Certainly wasn’t loud enough to wake anybody by me in Penrose – could see how it might have been a lot worse in, say, Foxcroft Heights though.

    • Penrose

      I’m your neighbor and I heard the cannons loud and clear. The noise sounded like cannons to me. I also heard the jets at 1am.

    • LBSki

      I’m in Penrose and heard it loud and obnoxiously clear.

  • Southeast Jerome

    I like this type of reporting. Well done.

  • SouthArlJD

    And here I thought someone had done started up the Late Unpleasantness Between the States again and I was going to have to go looking for some Confederate money.

  • ShirlingtonGirl

    I don’t think anyone complaining herw means to offend a ceremony honoring the ultimate patriotic sacrafice. I think Arlington Lawyer has the right idea- many of us living close to terrorist targets like the Pentagon get a little nervous when hearing ‘booming’or ‘exploding’ sounds. It’s just good sense to be alarmed! In fact, to help ease Pentagon employee anxiety, emails go out to building staff letting them know when a low flying plane will be passing by or other noises of a ‘cannon firing’ nature. They should have announced it via Arlington Alerts.

  • Booms

    I don’t particularly care that they did it. I do care more that there was no warning as to the drill. When you are standing in the bathroom brushing your teeth and you hear what appears to be cannon or bombing sounds it is a bit disconcerting, particularly after a night of fighter jet flights. Sorry, but craptastic timing on their part.

    But a humongous +1 to the comment above about it being the sounds of people driving over the plates on the pike.

  • Booms

    And someone should tell Staff Sgt. Coffee to buy a freaking watch. Nice try.

  • Teyo

    Seriously, jets flying overhead last night from around midnight to 1 AM, and then cannons going off this morning at 6:30… bad timing all around.

    • S. Arl Res

      I heard the jets last night too! And the cannons went off just before 7am – I remember counting in my half sleep 4-5 secs between each boom. I thought they were pile driving things in on the Pike somewhere. Thanks ARL Now for your reporting! Any info on the multiple jets (I counted at least 6 flyovers within a 15 min time period between 12 and 12:30 this morning). I figured anohter air traffic controller fell asleep.

      • Tabby

        I first posted about it around 6:30 am so it started even before that.

    • paranoia

      Yes, heard jets scrambling over Arlington after midnight too. Very suspicious, are they covering up the real story??

  • SArl

    Everyone’s so snarky…didn’t you get enough sleep? 😉

  • KlovesArlington

    Haha, some of these posts are pretty good! My local Aurora Hills listserv had a back-and-forth about both of these (NORAD planes and cannons) today. I live right across from Fire Station 5 so tho I was semi-awoken for the guns this a.m. I decided not to be worried that DCA was being taken off the map when no sirens ensued. The report on our list was “As for the ‘pile driver’ noise . That actually was a training session at Fort Myer on their cannons. If anyone counted the sequence of 12-12-13-12-12-21-12 it was definitely not a pile driver. Weather conditions was given as a reason for us hearing them so loud.”

  • ArlSnowGal

    I was up with my infant at 0630 and was certain a steel plate had been placed on Glebe (1.5 blocks away) and that the constant very loud noise I was hearing was rush hour traffic speeding over it. I was ready to call VDOT. I could hear it in my bedroom and living room. I live in Alcova Heights.

    My grandparents are in Arlington and my parents will be eventually (only Columbarium is available though) and either of those CO’s would have demanded answers if training disrupted suburban neighborhoods at o’dark-thirty.

  • e

    “It makes good sense to be alarmed.” You’re right, suspicion breeds confidence.

  • BoringDan

    I thought the cannons were for early funerals — and a lot of them. Glad to read they were just exercises.

  • HankTheTank

    Haha…this is rich…I know those guys! Great job Presidential Salute Battery….you rock.

    Besides, all these posers should be up cooking breakfast or something.

  • chris

    I just left that unit and that platoon and they fire that early because those salutes are for certain people and are very important. Stop complaining about the army saluting men and woman who have died protecting your freedom

    • AllTogetherNow

      Uh, no.

  • HankTheTank

    Hey ArlSnowGal,

    It is a good thing that people with your sentiment are the minority. I’m sure the members of the Presidential Salute Battery are sorry for any personal inconvenience they might have caused for you in your life as they trained to honor the fallen veterans of your country. Perhaps you should provide your name and phone number to Arlington National Cemetery and request a personalized phone call the next time they are going to train.

  • HonorGuard Soldier

    Dear all complainers,
    Arlington National Cemetery opens at 0800 hours. The weird thing about all these complaints is the fact that we’ve done this every Wednesday for the last, I don’t know, ten years. The fact that we moved from firing on-post to maybe three feet inside the cemetery from our current location shouldn’t warrant such complaints. Regardless of the complaints, you should realize something..you moved next to a military installation. Next time you have a problem, call the cops. I’m sure they’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. Our job is more important than your sleep. Guess what? We didn’t wake up and fire. We got up hours prior to that in order to prepare for successful training..and we received exactly that. We do our job to the “T”..our acronym “PSB” stands for “Presidential Salute Battery”, not “People’s Salute Battery”. Be conscious of the fact that there are things more important than you. Next time, we’ll try and wake you up even earlier. 0500 maybe? Either way, stop complaining. Nothing you do or say will change anything. For all the wannabe soldiers commenting on here and complaining, realize that the Army puts out timelines. We will continue to train when we are alloted time. If you didn’t know by now, we are currently fighting in two countries..chances are, soldiers are dying. Yeah, they are more important for you. They sacrificed everything…what have you ever had to sacrifice in your perfect little lives?? (..and don’t say sleep)

    • Westover

      I really hope you are not really a member of the Old Guard. I would think that like the days of old, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment would not be telling neighbors to “to go fuck yourself”. I know such things would be investigated and obviously junior folks like yourself would be losing a little rank at a minimum for embarrassing and dishonoring the unit with such talk. Your times are adjustable and firing this early in this direction at that location is a new event. But maybe I am just a bit Old Corps. Semper Fi

      • HonorGuard Soldier

        Marine, right? If you knew anything about the military and Arlington Cemetery, you’d realize that timeline is NOT adjustable. If you are a Marine you should know by now to stay in your lane. Army and Marines never get along..for simple reasons..either way, complaining on an open-forum website is exactly that..open-forum. I’ll be the first one to stand behind my words. What we do for this Nation is the most honorable thing a person can do. What have you done?

    • LBSki

      Well according to your sergant’s timeline this was supposed to happen at 0700. What happened with your allotted time? If it’s truly been going on in this fashion for 10 years, it wouldn’t be an issue. Obviously it was new and exciting and warrented discussion. Get your story straight before bullying tax paying civillians.

      • HonorGuard Soldier

        Listen up, civilian…0700 is actually an incorrect timeline. There’s a thing called “reville”..that is at 0630. Our 4-gun volley fired at 0630. We did this without thinking of your sleep. Frankly, we didn’t care. I’ll bully whoever I want. Until you sign a military contract, stay in your lane. You don’t worry about the simplest things. One of which is not getting paid for your service to your country. All of these things you take for granted. We will continue to fire at 0630. If you’d like to give a “SHOUT OUT” at one of our live fires, call ahead. We’ll be more than happy to have you here. Until you get up and sacrifice years of your life to your country, step off.

        • Westover

          Many of us have “sacrificed” our years already, and continue to serve our Nation and our Community.

      • HonorGuard Soldier

        Oh and by the way, I am a Sergeant

        • Westover

          Good thing this place is anonymous, or you would not be a Sergeant for much longer. Seen folks busted for stepping out with far less attitude.

  • StinkyLiberals

    Good God (Ooops…probably a faux pas saying that amongst you liberals), you people are deplorable. You truly are the reason we are slowly dying the death of the last superpower. I despise you and firmly wish we can bring back some firm discipline to people like you all. Someday perhaps….for now, whine on, libtards….whine on.

  • Really?

    Who knew you Honor Guard guys were such thin-skinned bullies?

    As has been explained, this is not normally a sound that your neighbors can hear. It was an unusual circumstance. I live a mile and a half away and have never once heard the cannon fire in the 10 years I’ve lived in the same place (even though I’m up at that time every day).

    I was annoyed because I thought the construction site a few doors down from me was operating too early. It wasn’t until I passed that site that I saw there was no one there.

    • HonorGuard Soldier

      I’ve been here over two years…this definitely isn’t a new thing. Like I said earlier, maybe we can wake you up earlier next time 🙂

      • Westover

        Two years on and your attitude is on the edge of destroying 225 years of Honor and Respect. Believe it or not, but folks around here understand what Honor to Country is. Folks would not believing and raising families in our Nation’s Capital if we did not. The relationship between Ft. Myer and Arlington County has been pretty good for a very long time, long before your grandparents were born in fact. Don’t come to our town and curse your neighbors. As powerful as the military is, Congress and the White House is stronger, and guess where people who work there live? There is a lot of training that you can do prior to 0700 to get your precision down without the firing of the cannon. In fact the sharp click of a dry fire will let you know if you are all together better than the roar of the boom.

  • Closing the comments on this one…

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