A sailor serving with a joint services military honor guard tasked with escorting the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis to lie in state within the Capitol Rotunda collapsed Monday afternoon in the suffocating Washington, D.C., summer heat.
The sailor, who has not been identified, “passed out due to extreme heat and dehydration,” said Ed Ziegler, a Naval District Washington spokesman.
“The United States Navy Ceremonial Guard are consummate professionals, but even they are vulnerable to the forces of Mother Nature,” Ziegler said, adding that the sailor “is doing well and is on his way back to base with the rest of the team.”
Lewis, a civil rights crusader who had served in the House of Representatives since 1986, died on July 17.
The sailor’s collapse occurred just before 2 p.m. local time and on camera during CNN’s live coverage of the event.
It was another disgustingly hot and muggy day in the nation’s capital Monday, with a forecasted high of 97 degrees and the honor guard wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We were watching on TV through the waves of heat and I asked – how are these guys at attention for over a half hour, and not starting to pass out?” Twitter user Colin Warrick wrote beneath a CNN video clip of the sailor’s collapse. “At that instant, boom, one goes down!”
Troops sometimes faint when made to stand at attention in hot and humid weather and are told to not lock their knees to prevent toppling over.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.