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Around The Fleet

Walking Backward

A Sailor Walks You Through His Typical Day at the Pentagon

Seaman Nathan Winn walks an average of five miles backward every day.

For Winn, walking backward every day isn't a strange new way to get in shape - it's his job as a tour guide at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. While giving tours to hundreds of tourists from around the world each day, guides have to walk them around the six million-square-foot building, recite hundreds of facts, and field questions, all while facing their audience.

Winn said when he started giving the tours, it was hard to get used to everything about the job.

"When I first started giving tours I had one day where I tried to go down the wrong escalators about three times during the day. The ones that were going up I was trying to go down backwards. My tour group just stood there and laughed at me," said Winn, laughing.

I definitely didn't think it was funny, it was really embarrassing."


The tour program recruits junior members of all five military branches fresh out of boot camp honor guard units. After a vigorous interview process, the new tour guides get 15 business days to learn 33 pages worth of Pentagon facts, and to learn how to walk the entire tour route backward. Winn said the hardest part of the training was getting used to speaking loud enough for the large tour groups to hear him.
  • Seaman Nathan Winn practices talking forward and walking backward.

    Seaman Nathan Winn practices talking forward and walking backward.

  • Seaman Nathan Winn diligently polishes his shoes before giving tours at the Pentagon.

    Seaman Nathan Winn diligently polishes his shoes before giving tours at the Pentagon.


"Before I got in the Navy I was a very shy individual; I still am shy right now," admitted Winn. "But when I'm doing tours I try to be as loud and outgoing and friendly as possible."

The tour program gives around 5,000 tours each year, which gives more than 100,000 tourists the opportunity to tour the building each year.

Winn said that while he enjoys sharing his knowledge about the Pentagon and giving informative tours, he gets a lot out of interacting with the tour groups as well.

"Being a Pentagon tour guide definitely has helped me become more open, more approachable," said Winn. "My favorite part about giving tours is just being able to be here and be a spokesperson for the Navy, and to become more confident in speaking with the public."

After Winn's one-year assignment to the tour program, he will report to his A-school, where he will train to be a Hospital Corpsman.
Seaman Nathan Winn walks an average of five miles giving tours to visitors at the Pentagon.

Seaman Nathan Winn walks an average of five miles giving tours to visitors at the Pentagon.