The standard color guard has four members:
- Right/Lead Guard
- American Flag Bearer
- Other Flag Bearer
- Left/Trail Guard
The guards are always armed (except in a chapel, at the discretion of the pastor). The weapons the guards may carry are:
- Ceremonial-style rifle (M1, M14, M1903)
- Modern automatic rifle (M16, etc., not as nice looking)
- Shotgun (fairly standard for law enforcement)
- Ceremonial Fire Ax (standard for firefighters)
- Ceremonial Pike Pole (not as usual nor as recognizable)
- Guards should NEVER carry swords or sabers, nor should rifles have mounted bayonets
Two guards are standard. I’ve seen teams with one guard due to a team member falling ill, and even teams without guards at all- that’s just not how to present the colors at any time.
American Flag Bearer
Always next to (marching right) or directly behind the Right/Lead Guard, NEVER in the middle or anywhere else.
ENSURE ALL FLAGS ARE THE SAME HEIGHT!
“Other Flag” Bearer
A question arose a few days ago the question arose from a fire department team about what flag should march next in line. Since the team usually marches three flags, US, State, Local or Organizational, and now they can only march two flags, which one should be next?
For us in the military the answer is always taken care of for us; the other flag for a color team is always the service color when marching two colors. When overseas, many teams march three colors by default: US, Host Nation, and Service Color (when on “American soil” US installation, American cemetery), or Host Nation, US, and Service Color (when on “foreign soil”, anywhere else).
For first responders, the state, local, or organizational flag is just fine. For JROTC and other cadet organizations, your first choice should be your service color, but your unit color is appropriate.
Education is Key!
Please review your service manual or The Honor Guard Manual to have that knowledge as fresh as possible for when you need it.