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.

Got Squeaky Shoes?

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While wearing your shoes (low quarters/boots/civvy shoes), move your feet back and forth and side to side to try to pinpoint from where the squeak is coming. Once you find the area that is squeaking, sprinkle it with corn starch or baking powder, inside and out. This will help to absorb noisy moisture and reduce or even eliminate noise.

See also the article, Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them.

That’s it.

The Citadel 2017 Bulldog Drill Meet

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Commentary, DrillMaster Performance Critiques, Judging Leave a Comment

I had the privilege of judging Freshman Color Guard at the Citadel today. I enjoyed myself a great deal and learned a bunch from the instructor from Airport High School AJROTC. My DrillMaster Performance Critiques are linked below.

For these files, I’m trying something new. Instead of uploading to my separate server, I’ve uploaded to my website and loaded them here. You can play the files and download them as you please.

  1. North Charleston Freshman Colors
  2. Beaufort Freshman Colors
  3. Ft Dorchester Freshman Colors
  4. Clover Freshman Colors
  5. Grove Town Freshman Colors
  6. Battery Creek Freshman Colors
  7. Wando Freshman Colors
  8. Airport Freshman Colors (Talked with the instructor and learned!)
  9. Myrtle Beach Freshman Colors
  10. Irmo Freshman Colors
  11. Sumter Freshman Colors



Protocol for the Thin Line Flags

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The Thin Blue Line and the Thin Red Line.

Hi there–I am a funeral director and have recently made funeral arrangements for a retired police officer. He is not a military veteran, but the family would like to drape his casket with the thin blue line flag (the black and white flag with the blue line representing police officers). I know with the American flag being draped on the casket, nothing can be placed on top of the flag (ex: flowers, medals, pictures, etc.) Would this etiquette still be followed for a police officer thin blue line flag? I just want to make sure I am following the correct protocol and do not want to upset anyone regardless if they were military, police, firemen, etc. Any advice would help!


What a great question! And, I love the idea of draping the Thin Blue Line flag on the casket. Very appropriate. Let’s create protocol right now since there really isn’t anything written to govern the use of the Thin Line flags.

We know that nothing goes on top of the following flags that can be draped on a casket: American, tribal nation, state, city. The Thin Line Flags could be treated the same since the flags represent the first responder family. Out of respect for what the flag represents, just like the others previously mentioned, I would say no to placing anything on any flag. I’m quite sure you are aware of a small table placed near the casket that serves to hold a picture and military paraphernalia. For this officer, you could do the same.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is that the flag comes in 3′ x 5′, but an interment flag is 5′ x 9′. Are you going to use something else to make up the couple of feet at each end of the casket?

There is also the fact that the Thin Line Flags that are a version of the American flag, actually go against the Flag Code. Just FYI. I recommend the flag with the black background and the vertical blue line in the center.

I hope this answers your question adequately. Thank you for wanting to provide the very best for a fallen Thin Blue Line hero.


How to Call Commands

Your Command Voice

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional 2 Comments

Have you considered your command voice? Have you looked at your service’s manual and actually read about what it says on the proper way to call commands? No, it doesn’t say monotone is OK, it doesn’t say the gravel-in-your-throat style is a good style, it says use inflection, be clear and more! Read! Don’t rely on a senior cadet to tell you what you need to do (as with EVERYTHING else!)- read it for yourself!

“Well, I call commands like this.” “At my school we, [fill in the blank here].” Ever hear of standardization? That is what the military is about, standardizing. Your personal style, what you may think is really cool, does not matter. Stop it.

Click here to listen to some examples of commands in MP3 format and how to call them.

Also read this article, “Root Step” and Command Pronunciation.

When calling commands your voice should have inflection and NOT be monotone (some Navy cadets do this and I cannot figure out why). You should also enunciate each syllable and not leave off the first or last letter or substitute letters:

  • There is no such thing is “Righ, HACE“.
  • The USAF does allow, Forward, HARCH, (it’s in a picture, not text) the other services use MARCH.
  • There is no such thing as “A-Ten-Hut”, or any other number to bring a formation to Attention.
  • There is no need to growl your commands- that means you are calling from your throat. Stop, or you will have problems later in life.
  • There is no such thing is “Orward, ARCH“.

Here is a snippet from my book, The Honor Guard Manual.

•The ability of your voice to reach whatever distance necessary without undue strain.
•Voice is focused on the person farthest away.
•Assume the position of Attention, breathe properly, relax throat, open mouth and push the air out of your lungs from the diaphragm (place your hand on the top of your stomach, just under your ribcage and try to make those muscles tighten when giving commands).

Distinctness (Clarity)
•Distinct commands are effective; indistinct commands cause confusion.
•Clearly enunciate; use tongue, lips, and teeth to form words and word parts.
•Develop the ability to give clear, distinct commands. Practice giving commands slowly and carefully, prolonging the syllables. Gradually increase the rate of delivery to develop proper cadence, still enunciating each syllable distinctly.

Note: Honor Guard cadence is slow; approximately 90 beats per minute

•The rise and fall in pitch and the tone changes of the voice.
•Starting at a normal speaking voice, pronounce the preparatory command with rising inflection.
•A properly delivered Command of execution should have no inflection.
•Command of execution should have a higher pitch than the preparatory command.

•Expresses confidence and decisiveness
•Expresses knowledge of commands and proper execution
•Commands are called at the proper time and in the proper manner

So, now that you have the info, straight from the manual, you will be able to properly call commands!

Happy drilling!

The Logical Separation of Colors

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While I’m sure that you are completely mesmerized at my drawing abilities, I hope the illustrations help get the idea across.

First: know the difference between posting and presenting the colors. Posting the colors is when the colors guard/team enters, renders honors and then places the colors in the stands. Presenting is when the colors team enters, renders honors and departs (called a “Show-n-Go”). This article is about the former, posting the colors.

The following is guidance for a DrillMaster Certified Ceremonial Guardsman.

Where to Post

Location. On stage at the back, in front on the floor, together, split. It’s up to you for your situation. You are educated and trained in various techniques to handle different situations, rely on that and as long as the American flag receives the utmost respect during the ceremony, you will be fine.

Together or Split? Again, that depends. Here is some guidance.

As long as the American flag is in the position of honor the whole time (in front or to the right of the other flags), aesthetics and visual balance are the big factors when considering separating posted flags or keeping them together (audience, camera angles, etc.). Position the stands with uniform separation either all together or in groups.




“You Got Odds, I Got Evens.”

You decided to split post, so now let’s consider the number of flags to post.

An even number of flags is simple to group when split posting, 50-50.

An odd number of flags is a different issue. How does one separate an odd number? In the example image below, we have a three and two split. Look at your flags with a logical view of how to group them. The example below might be all that you need.

American | State | City                                      Organization | POW/MIA

What to Post

Post all of your flags. Try not to have one or more flags preposted and then carry in two for presenting and posting. If this might be the case, it would be better to prepost all of the colors (e.g. American, state, City, & Organizational) and then present the minimum (American and state).

The minimum for the color team is four members, two flags and two rifle/axe guards. Two armed guards are the standard for the military and paramilitary (LE, fire, EMS) organizations, but not scouting programs, colors only for them. Rifles or axes are the weapons and the flags are

  1. The American flag
  2. Non-national flag
    • Uniformed service flag
    • State flag

Additional flags – the above is the minimum for first responders. Additional flags would be next: city, service (LEO, fire, EMS). Here is information on the POW/MIA.

How to Post

See the article, All About Posting or Presenting the Colors.

Firefighter Color Guard Axes at Right Shoulder

The “Magic White Glove Effect”

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard, Honor Guard Training Leave a Comment

how not to post the colors, Wash. D.C. Dept of Corrections Honor Guard

Evidence of little to no training for the DC Dept of Corrections Honor Guard

It’s truly amazing. One minute you are doing your job in your department or unit and then supervision comes in and chooses you and a couple of others “to be an honor guard” for an upcoming event. You have no idea what that means, but you have complete faith in your leadership as they hand out the white gloves that will go really well with your Class A uniform.

The day comes, you arrive a few minutes early for a briefing for the event, and then it happens. You don’t know exactly what has come over you but, as you slide your hands into your gloves, all of the sudden, you know every ceremonial detail that is required of you and your “voluntold” colleagues. You are now more knowledgeable than ever before and can perform your duties flawlessly. You can now proudly say that you can stand “Sharp, Crips, and Motionless” for whatever ceremonial requirement that comes your way. Because of your white gloves you are now a Ceremonial Guardsman!

During the ceremony however, you don’t have a clue as to the technicalities of what you are supposed to do, you feel, and most likely look, awkward and what you and your team are doing is probably an embarrassment to your department/unit. The list is endless as to how mistakes can be made and unforeseen problems arise.

Cadet joint service honor guard academy

Evidence of proper training for these Joint Service Honor Guard Cadets

Please get training; learn how to now make mistakes and seamlessly handle those unforeseen problems. Even a DrillMaster two- or three-day Honor Guard Clinic will give you a good idea of the what and how of each ceremonial element. For more complete training, a DrillMaster Honor Guard Academy in the 40- and 80-hour versions, which now offers Ceremonial Guardsman certification (DrillMaster Certified Ceremonial Guardsman– more information coming soon), is going to be the best way for you and your team to create an educational and training foundation. At least get The Honor Guard Manual, Second Edition, and read, read, read.

Or, you can rely on those awesome Magic White Gloves and their incredible ability to transform an every-day Joe into a Ceremonial Guardsman Joseph! The choice is yours.

The Difference Between Accuracy and Precision

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This video can be of great help to you in training.


Why is Drill Necessary in the Armed Forces?

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From India: why is drill necessary in the armed forces?

Thanks for the question!
Drill is life for some, but what about those trainees coming into the military through Basic Training and Boot Camp? Why do they have to drill unarmed and even armed?

Drill instills discipline, timing, teamwork, confidence, followership, leadership, coordination, togetherness, esprit de corps (spirit of the body- the unit), etc. It also helps trainees react immediately to commands; all of the qualities that an individual needs to accomplish the mission. Adding a rifle into drill helps the trainee become very familiar with that piece of equipment. The more familiar one is with their weapon, the better able they are to use it.

Drill is very necessary in initial training and as a refresher throughout one’s career. To understand this a bit better, watch this brief documentary on drill and ceremonies.

The DrillMaster Reading List

DrillMaster Announcements, Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Drill Teams, Honor Guard Leave a Comment

Over time, I will update this list as needed. For now, educate yourself.

Many of the following manuals are the Resources page.

Service Drill and Ceremonies

  • Training Circular 3-21.5, Drill and Ceremonies
  • Marine Corps Order P5060.2 (with all four changes), Drill and Ceremonies
  • Air Force Manual 36-2203, Drill and Ceremonies

Regulation Drill Training (portable lesson plans)

Flag Information

  • AR 840-10, Flag, Guidons and Streamers
  • MCO 10520.3B, Flag Manual, Nov 2013
  • AFTO 00-25-154 AFD-091005-041 Maintenance & Storage of US, AF Flags, Guidons & Streamers
  • NTP13b, Flags, Pennants and Customs
  • US Flag Code


  • Dod Directive 1005.8, Order of Precedence of Members of Armed Forces of the United States When in Formations
  • AFPAM 34-1202, Protocol
  • AP 600-60, Army Protocol and Etiquette
  • AR 600-25, Salutes, Honors and Visits of Courtesy
  • OPNAVINST 1710.7A, Social Usage and Protocol Handbook


  • FM 23-5, M1 Garand
  • TM 9-1275, Maintenance of the M1 (1947, Parts 1-4)

Exhibition Drill

Ceremonial Drill Category

Drill and Ceremonies in History

These are not really necessary, but can give an interesting look at how American drill developed.

  • Field Manual 22-5, Drill and Ceremonies
  • Air Force Regulation 50-14, Drill and Ceremonies
  • FM 22-5, Drill and Ceremonies, 1939
  • FM 22-5, Drill and Ceremonies, 1943
  • FM2-5, Cavalry Drill, 1944
  • Baron von Steuben’s Revolutionary War Drill Manual: A Facsimile Reprint of the 1794 Edition

Relevant* Military History

  • The Last Frigate
  • The Drillmaster of Valley Forge

*Relevant to military drill


  • You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty: Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life, Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj
  • Water Cure, Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj
  • Fats That Heel, Fats That Kill, Dr. Udo Erasmus
  • The Complete Illustrated Guide to Vitamins, Denise Mortimer