How many honor guard members does it take to fold a flag?
There are two ways to fold the American flag; one procedure of actually folding it, and two ways to accomplish that folding procedure.
The Two-Man* Flag Fold
This is the standard for retirements and memorial services. Veteran/retiree funerals also use this flag fold.
The Six-Man* Flag Fold
This is the standard for active duty/line of duty funerals
The Eight-Man Flag Fold
This is the same thing as the Six-Man, but gives more members a chance to be a part of carrying the casket and folding the flag. Eight honor guard members are used when carrying the deceased is a high honor (President, etc.)
There aren’t any other official set ups to fold the flag. These three are it. If you have something different, that is fine. Many JROTC units use a 3-man flag fold with one individual there to “support” the flag. This support is unnecessary, but it gets more cadet involved and that’s OK too!
The Two-Man flag fold is the easiest fold to train and you only have to have two members of your team trained (at a minimum!). Many first responder honor guard units cannot afford the constant training time to perfect the standard six-man fold and when a LODD happens, there isn’t time for JIT (Just-in-Time) Training. If this is the case for your team, you can train your members in casket movement and then, when it comes time to fold the flag, have all of the pall bearers execute the first two horizontal folds and then the triangle folds can be accomplished by the two more trained members. Everyone is then a part of the ceremony and can take part.
You might be reading this and wanting to know how to accomplish each of the folds I mentioned above, they are in my fifth book, The Honor Guard Manual.
CPB: Commander of the Pall Bearers; M: Mark; C: Carry; HO: Hand Off; CM: Cross Mark; F: Fold. DM: “Dead” Mark; DCM: “Dead” Cross Mark. Yeah, I know, that last two titles aren’t exactly the best terms, but they are only used to identify the two pall bearer positions and are never known beyond that.
*”Man” Does not always mean “male.”
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