The Colors Reverse and Counter March How-to

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This is for Army and Air Force. For the Colors Counter March (Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard), Click here.

We can read in the Army Training Circular how to execute the move and even see the provided diagram, but it sometimes really helps to see exactly what the feet do. To begin, here is what the Colors Reverse* does:

*Called Counter March in the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard

Now, let’s look at the feet for Colors Reverse:

(17 Jan 18) The following diagrams show what the Training Circular states a Right or Left Face as in Marching. It does not say to flank for a Colors Reverse. Facing as in Marching is described in a previous section. More to come on this.

Now, let’s look at the feet for Counter March:

The command is given from the halt, while marching or marking time. If given while marching, the command is on two consecutive left steps.

During the movement, the team’s steps will not be exactly half or whole, they will be just a little less to make proper distance and alignment.


Whether you are marching forward at a full step, half step or marching in place, DO NOT SPEED UP, maintain the same tempo all of the time.

NOTE: If you have to take extra steps, that is acceptable!


  • RRG- Right Rifle Guard
  • US- US Color Bearer
  • AZ- Arizona Color Bearer
  • LRG- Left Rifle Guard

For the Right Rifle Guard

The RRG takes steps on the outside of the team, LRG moves inside these footprints. The steps that lead from the team, should be just large enough to bring the guard on the outside of the AZ and LRG and no farther or you will take forever to make it back to the team. Make your steps as equally spaced as possible for all three sets of steps (from, across, and to the team), but do not make all of your steps equal- only within each set. Begin Mark Time when you get in place.

For the US Bearer

The US Color Bearer, in place(!), executes a Left Face-in-March (not facing movements!), take two steps to move into the place where the AZ Bearer stood, executes a Right Flank-in-Place*, and begins marking time.

*There really isn’t a term such as that, I just made it up to illustrate that you do not move forward on this flank.

For the AZ Bearer

The AZ Color Bearer takes a half step forward, flanks, takes two almost half steps, flanks, takes a step forward and then takes up Mark Time.

For the Left Rifle Guard

LRG does the same thing as the AZ Color Bearer following right behind and then taking two more steps, a flank and a step forward, and then begin Mark Time.


Take the above information and put it into this setting: Colors Reverse, MARCH, is called on two consecutive left steps (Counter March, MARCH ends on the left foot in the Marine Corps style).

The First Right Step: US Bearer executes an immediate Right Flank, takes one step forward into the AZ bearer’s position and begins marking time while turning 90-degrees in place to the left.

The Next Left Step: AZ Bearer and LRG execute a Left Flank, march across, and flank into their positions, just like the technique outlined above in the From the Halt section.

The Next Right Step: RRG executes a Right Flank, takes one step forward, marches across, and and flanks into position, just like the technique outlined above in the From the Halt section.

And finally, the image from the Army Training Circular for the four-man color guard.

How to Shape a Beret

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How do you shape a beret?

I’m glad yo asked!

First: Cut out the lining.

Second: Cut the cardboard so that it is just a small arch about 2 or 3 inches across the bottom so that whatever device you wear fits nicely.

Third: Put on your beret and make sure it (the leather band around the bottom) is as parallel to the ground as you can get it with the cardboard centered over your left eye. Make a fold of the material that starts right nest to the cardboard and goes toward your right ear. This fold should not cover any of the area where your device will rest. Tie the ribbon so that the beret fits your head snugly. Some cut the ribbon, others just tuck it under the beret.

Fourth: Take a shower with your new beret on and get it soaking wet with hot water as soon as you enter the shower. Make sure you form it like I explained above while it is wet and the steam is getting to it. Let it drip dry ON YOUR HEAD. Don’t take it off until it is almost completely dry- or completely dry if you can stand it that long. You can also use a mannequin head if you have one.

Fifth: Let it sit flat overnight so that the fold can hang over the side of a table or whatever flat surface it is on to make sure it is totally dry. It should look like the Duke’s beret in the picture above; that picture is the standard.

Now your beret is ready to wear!

Note: some people suggest shaving the beret to get rid of all of the fuzz on it. You can do that, but it tends to look a little strange and sometimes even get a slight shine. Also, if the beret has tiny tab at the top in the middle, cut it off.

The Ribbon
Tie it so that the beret fits snugly on your head and then fold it up underneath the beret. You can cut the excess ribbon, but don’t make it too short to tuck underneath!

To Fringe or Not to Fringe, That is the Question

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Fringe on my flag? Why?

It is an honorable enrichment only, not an integral part of the flag. As it is attached on the edge, it does not “deface” the flag which therefore remains the Stars and Stripes of the US (as per the opinion of the US Attorney General in 1925). The fringe is used only inside or on a staff when carried outside by a bearer, it is never flown from a staff or pole outside (the fringe would fray). As there is no wind to move a flag when inside, the gold fringe adds an element of “prettiness”, nothing more. Most national flags have a fringe in some circumstances and no other country attributes any meaning to the fringe except that it looks better.

There are many posts that posit the theory that the fringe represents martial or admiralty law. However there is no law, decree, order or other legally enforceable proclamation that mentions the fringe, either to prescribe or proscribe its use. Many quote Executive Order 10834 (under President Eisenhower) however this is a public document available in full on the Internet (try the US Archives) and a review will show no mention of a fringe at all. US Army Orders (840-10) do make the use of the fringe obligatory inside, but these apply to the US Army only. The law that defines the flag and its use is USC Title 4 Chapter 1 – again a public document whose provisions are enforceable in a federal court. There is nothing that says that a civilian or civilian organization may not fly a flag with a gold fringe.

Click here for the text of Executive Order 10834 (1959) on the make up of the American flag.

“Fringe is for indoor flags only.”

Is that so? Then you’d better tell the Joint Service Color Team at the top of this post. That statement is partially correct, but it is not a complete statement. Did you know that statement only applies to mounted stationary flags? If a flag is mounted on a flagstaff that is to be carried and you are in a military color team, the flags better have fringe on them. That is the standard.

Gold fringe can be found on ceremonial flags used indoors and for outdoor ceremonies. The fringe is considered completely within the guidelines of proper flag etiquette. There is nothing in the Flag Code about the fringe being for federal government flags only. The Internet contains many sites that claim that the fringe indicates martial law or that the Constitution does not apply in that area. These are entirely unfounded (usually citing Executive Order 10834 and inventing text that is not part of the order) and should be dismissed as urban legends. Others ascribe meanings of spiritual authority. Gold fringes on flags goes back long before the United States. Flags in ancient India had gold fringe, as did those in France, England, and throughout Europe. (Emphasis mine)

Why does the Marine Corps not have fringe on the American flag in their color teams?

All of the other services use fringe for their colors in a color team, but the Marine Corps does not carry an American flag with fringe. MCO P10520.3B, Flag Manual, states, “The use of fringe on national colors or standards within the Marine Corps is prohibited.” This is because the Flag Code states that nothing will be attached to the American flag.

Note: you may read that the Navy follows the Marine Corps by carrying an un-fringed American flag. Since the Navy relies on the Marine Corps for its drill and ceremonies, Marine Corps traditions apply to the Navy and Coast Guard.

The Army (AR 840-10 states all flags carried by Soldiers will have fringe) and Air Force (AFI 34-1201 states all flags carried by Airmen will have fringe) carry fringed colors, when fringed, the flags become “ceremonial colors”. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard do not carry a fringed American flag, any other color carried by these services is always fringed.

What about the cord and tassels?

The gold tassel represents that the Flag has been honored with victory in battle or the flag has seen heroics in battle.

For those associated with the Army

A cord 8-foot 6-inch in length with a tassel at each end is attached at the center of the cord below the finial on the staff of the U.S. flag only when it is displayed with a flag also equipped with a cord and tassel. Only 4-foot, 4-inch by 5-foot, 6-inch positional colors and the color of the U.S. Corps of Cadets are authorized a cord and tassel. The colors of the cord and tassel for the US flag are red, white, and blue when displayed by the Army.

For those associated with the Marine Corps

Battle Streamers OR a scarlet and gold cord for the USMC fringed color. The colors of the cord and tassel for the unfringed US flag are red, white, and blue.

And here we have another What’s Wrong With This Picture entry:

Both colors do not have fringe and this is incorrect. Period.

Photos are from the DOD.

Breath Control

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Does a Driller need to control his/her breath while performing?

Yes, breath control is a skill every serious Driller should learn! This is part of what Equipment Judges adjudicate and what Jedi Knights rely on constantly!

Phrase = drill moves (equipment and/or body movement) put together in long and short strings like sentences.

Equipment = rifle, sword, saber, flag or guidon.

The motion of the equipment and/or the body will is usually affected in a phrase without breath control.  Exhaling on a release generates better momentum, holding your breath will vary your toss height consistency. A phrase, fast or slow, with breath control looks controlled and flows well.

From the World Drill Association Adjudication Manual:

FLOW: Use of breath impacts the flow of energy significantly and impacts changes in the quality of the flow of tension; Equipment moves from free and open to bound (controlled by the degree of, or release of, tension in the arms and upper body.) The “going with the flow” of equipment movement we call free; the restriction of the equipment flow we call bound.


BREATH is crucial to motion not only to bring more oxygen to the body but also to give equipment and body motion fluency and harmony.
– Breath will impact on the specific quality of motion.
– A phrase of motion “with breath” has a controlled extension in time, a clear beginning and end no matter how fast or how slow it is. It moves with freedom and harmony.
– A phrase “without breath” looks stiff and mechanical (no breathing space).


All About the Shoulder Cord

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 How to Attach a Shoulder Cord or Aiguillette

What’s a Shoulder Cord?

Modesto 2016 (30)

Just a standard braided rope that fits onto the shoulder either underneath an epaulet (picture below, #452) or above the epaulet on the outside shoulder seam (picture below, #484SL). The cord above was specially made for the Modesto Fire Department Honor Guard by Shoulder Cords Unlimited. Glendale Paradestore also customizes cords to suit your needs.

The enlisted Air Force uniform has the ‘problem’ of not having epaulettes on the shoulder any more and still many JROTC units use the older style ropes that fit underneath the epaulette and are fastened to the epaulette’s button. The newer AF uniform does not look good with the old style rope, since the rope was specifically made for having a button there on the shoulder. The solution for JROTC units is the “Shaker Knot” cord (picture below, #484SL) not hiking the standard shoulder cord up underneath the uniform’s collar.

What’s an Aiguillette?

Pronounced “ay-gwee-et.” An aiguillette is a more ornate shoulder cord. A standard shoulder cord as many call them does not have a tassel, while aiguillettes have one or even two tassels. They can be quite ornate with multiple cords on the inside and outside of the arm, as well.

In this picture above, #638R is the USAF Enlisted Aiguillette. Unfortunately, in this picture directly above, Glendale has this cord improperly placed as it never goes underneath the epaulette (it’s an enlisted cord, only). The USAF Officer’s Aiguillette (#638RO, which is my design, by the way) does go underneath an epaulette, since the officer uniform is the only one to have epaulettes. The picture below shows a friend of mine from when we were on the Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard. This is how to properly wear the USAF Enlisted Honor Guard Aiguillette.

A shoulder cord or aiguillette is worn on either shoulder, check with your unit. It is also completely up to your unit on who gets what and what color is used.

Pinning the Cord and the Tassels (“Nose Pickers”)

Standard Shoulder Cord: Pinning is not really necessary since there is not much slack in the cord when one moves.

“Shaker Knot” Cords: You really need to pin this type of shoulder cord from the inside of the blouse (“jacket” for all of you non-honor guard types) or shirt. Pin at 9 and 3 o’clock. Pinning any lower will make the cord bend inward; you want it to hang straight down.

how to pin a shoulder cord

The Tassels: Pin the knot of this rope from the inside of the blouse/shirt. Whether on a “Shaker knot” or standard shoulder cord, make sure it is hanging straight down and pin it. This will make sure the thing doesn’t knock your teeth out!


Did you know? shoulder cords are made by macrame a form of knotting. All macrame is knotting, but all knotting is not macrame.

Christmas Gifts For the Driller

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There is always the question of what to get someone who likes military drill (drill team or honor guard member) when Christmas or their birthday comes around. Here are some suggestions:

Number one on the list is equipment for practicing. Ya’ just gotta have this stuff!

The newest items for the military drill world are the Glendale DrillAmerica M1903 Replica Rifle. Whether you get the black of chromed version, this rifle is just beautiful and the upper band has a bayonet lug! If you have a ceremonial unit, the chromed version is a must! Click the picture to get to the Glendale website.

The DrillAMerica M1903 Replica

Glendale Parade Store Has 100s of great items, click and see.

Next is stuff to wear. If the Driller in your life has been there, but doesn’t have the T-shirt, then there is something missing!


Then there is DrillMasterWear

Give Blood, Drill Bladed

Drill Hard, or Go Home

Last comes other stuff like stickers, posters and mugs. This is gift giving at its best for Drillers and honor guardsmen.

Got Drill? Bumper Sticker

Drill Life Bumper Sticker

Peace, Love Drill Sticker

Plus a whole bunch more!

Definitive POW/MIA Flag Info?

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard Training, Instructional, Protocol and Flag Leave a Comment

pow/mia flag postingDepending on where you live in the US, you can count on strong feelings as to whether the POW/MIA flag should be marched in a color guard for a parade.

Pertinent POW/MIA Flag and Table Articles

The only information that I have been able to find, of which Mike Kelley (DrillMaster002) reminded me, comes from AFI 34-1201, Protocol, :

2.11.10. The POW/MIA flag will always be the last flag in any display.

2.11.11. The POW/MIA flag will always be the last flag in any display, except on the six national observances for which Congress has ordered display of the POW/MIA flag. On these days it is flown immediately below or adjacent to the United States flag as second in order of precedence (however it still would be flown after other national flags). The six national observances are National POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday of September), Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day. The POW/MIA flag is not carried or displayed in parades or reviews, however is authorized to be carried at official military funerals.

The other services do not specifically refer to the flag for a color guard, which can be taken just like bayonets, swords, and sabers- not authorized (the MCO does specifically band bayonets, however).

I know, this is information from the USAF for Airmen and no one else must follow it. The other services do not have information and nothing else exists as far as guidance for veteran organizations, first responders, and citizens. However, military color guards do not (are not supposed to) carry it except during funerals for former POWs and that’s it. Color guards should not carry the POW/MIA flag inside or outside the formation.