“Your uniform makes me uncomfortable.”

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Commentary, DrillCenter News 5 Comments

Presenting the church’s flag on Memorial Day

I was actually told that (the title of this article) just before the 2012 Joint Service Drill Competition where I was a guest judge. I’m, fairly sure the individual who approached me was on one of the service honor guards and his comment was most likely out of fear and a bit of elitism. When he told me that, I introduced myself and explained to him who I was and what I was doing there. It appeared as though I was not able to alleviate his fears, since he just walked away from me without a reply, which is unfortunate.

I seem to be threatening to some people, for some strange reason. This question comes from a poor attitude which reflects negatively on the organization and that is a bad thing.

The Presidential Honor Guards are top-notch organizations, but they are not super-human or “The best of the best of the best, with honors” (a Men in Black movie reference). Each service’s honor guard is filled with some great people who are trained to do their best 24-7 without flinching and they are awesome at what hey do. The units also happen to be filled with human beings who are fallible. Bad stuff happens and the not-so-perfect nature of people rears its head every once in a while. Unfortunately, ego also sees the light of day. Obviously, the service honor guards are not the only units to have fallible people. Still, the honor guards are as close to perfection for the military drill world as one can get. I have great respect for anyone and everyone who is with an honor guard unit. While the Presidential units are in the limelight, there are teams who perform just as excellent a job for a fallen law enforcement officer, firefighter or the even the homeless veteran without a next of kin in a small, out-of-the-way portion of the cemetery.

As honor guard members, we are trained to do a certain job to the best of our ability with what we have to work with. Support and camaraderie are what are called for, not belittling.

The DrillMaster Uniform
I created my uniform in 2010. I call it my DrillMaster Ceremonial Uniform. I served twenty years in the US Air Force, fourteen of which I spent in the Base Honor Guard system in the US, Okinawa, Japan and in Europe and an additional three years after retiring on the Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard while my wife was active duty. I have a DD214 to back up my USAF awards. I will never wear rank.

I wear my USAF accouterments and my one Army marksmanship badge that I earned at what used to be called Basic Camp, that was for first-year college cadets at Ft. Knox, Kentucky when I was attending New Mexico Military Institute.

The uniform itself is a firefighter’s (or police officer’s) single-breasted uniform which I obtained through Steve Cohen, the president of the Lighthouse Uniform Company. The buttons are gold-colored, my cover is made for first responders with gold-colored buttons (from paradestore.com). Added to the uniform sleeves and trousers are gold stripes (from Lighthouse) which are the same type and location as the AF Honor Guard uniform stripes, and a gold aiguillette (shoulder cord with single cord and shaker knot) from Glendale (paradestore.com).

My shoes are patent leather (Corfam) with leather soles (the best for drilling) and with an layer added to the soles. I used to wear three sets of taps: horseshoe on the heel, number 10 on the toe and side heel taps or “cheaters”/”clickers” on the inside heel and now just have the cheaters.

Why a Special Uniform?
Because I cannot and will not wear my Air Force uniform since that may be construed as an endorsement and since The DrillMaster is a business, that would not be ethical. I needed a uniform for the unique job that I do: the ceremonial, class B and utility uniforms are for those occasions requiring such uniforms: formal training sessions and ceremonies.

Let’s work together and stop the “us’ and “them” thinking.

Comments 5

  1. I don’t know if you actually served in the armed forces.

    If you did, you should know better than to display US military insignia incorrectly. You disrespect all veterans who have worn that uniform by displaying rank, achievement, and service insignia that you have NOT earned.

    If you didn’t, you’re not much different from the other cases of stolen valor going viral on the internet of late.

    Either way, while your heart may be in the right place, your uniform makes ME uncomfortable. I worked very hard for some of the items you wear, and it is disturbing to see them worn incorrectly and without justification.

    1. Post

      “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.”

      Your paradigm, your experience seems to be quite small, as evidenced by what you wrote.

      What is truly unfortunate about this situation is that you seemingly could not be bothered to read the whole article to gleen the necessary information from it. Nor did you accomplish even the tiniest amount of research by clicking above on the word, Resume.

      You wrote, “I don’t know if you actually served in the armed forces.” And that is just so very disappointing. You were more concerned about writing rather than reading. Listening and reading are two skills that are difficult to come by for some.

      If you truly have an issue with others wearing military devices, then head on over to a local veteran service organization building where there are plenty of vets there wearing all kinds of devices all over their biker vests, jackets and hats. And while you are at it, make it a goal to visit and all of the military schools, academies and institutes across the land that have adopted certain military-issue devices for their cadets and their teachers who, while most of them have never served a day in the military, wear a military uniform complete with military rank. As a matter of fact, both of my English Literature teachers at New Mexico Military Institute were full bird colonels and they had never served in the military.

      I intentionally do not wear rank. Not even the rank that I earned after spending 20 years in the Air Force, but you did not see that. My uniform is generic and yet distinct and that is for a very specific purpose.

      I’ve worked with members from each service of varying ranks in my different uniforms and in different situations and have only had two gripes: the individual for whom I wrote this article and yours. That encourages me because it shows that open-minded, understanding people far outweigh others.

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