I think what we all need to remember here is that Gardens of Stone is an adaptation from a book, and the book was better than the movie.
The first time I saw Gardens of Stone I was IN the Old Guard - I spent 7 years with the Fife and Drum Corps before I got out in 1999, so I recognized a lot of faces during the ceremony sequence on Summerall Field, as well as recognizing the inacuracies put in by Hollywood to try to dress it up a little bit. (The Old Guard fixes bayonets to the trandional beat of the drum, not the tradional beat of the salute gun battery aka "Guns Platoon" - that's at a differnet point of the ceremony)
It's an interesting place to be because you are in the Army, but you aren't doing "real" Army things...then again, as an Army bandsman, I never really did, but for an infantry guy, being ceremonial most of the time might prove to be a very challenging mindset. Some of the guys who got stationed in the Old Guard really chaffed at having to do ceremonial things so they would purposely fail their ROP training so they could get sent to the one platoon in the Old Guard that didn't do ceremonies - Recon Platoon, later called the Scout platoon. All they did was go out and train like a real scout platoon.
Again, the book did a much better job of describing what was going on with the characters and why Willow was so idealistic in his desire to be a real soldier - he felt that the right soldier at the right time could make history. What he forgot was that even the right soldier at the wrong time just gets chewed up and killed by the war machine - war doesn't discriminate.
Some of them must have gotten real bored with the ceremonies. I remember them being busted for drug use in the Old Guard after an investigation. Maybe a tour in Viet Nam would have made them appreciate what they had.
I remember going on board "Old Ironsides" in Boston. The men on board are real Navy personnel. One of them said it wasn't so glamerous in the winter time shoveling snow off the deck with no tourists in sight.
I sort of knew that it would end with a funeral of one of their own. But, I guess everyone thought that it would be clell--It would be a similar ending to "Mr.Roberts"