How NOT to Present the Colors

DrillMasterHonor Guard, Honor Guard Training, Instructional 2 Comments

The Flag

A flag is furled (rolled) for casing (sliding a cover over the flag). When the flag is uncased, it is unfurled (unrolled) immediately. A furled flag is not formally carried and presented as is shown in this photo.

The Situation

The room was probably small and crowded. In that case, the flag should have been carried at the ceremonial position of Port and if the ceiling was too low to allow the staff to be carried vertically, then Angle Port is the answer. Both of these positions are fully explained in my book, The Honor Guard Manual. At a minimum, the bearer could have read in the Colors section of MCO 5060.20 about carrying at Trail Colors and the description of Angle Port to get through doorways, even though it is not officially called Angle Port in the MCO.

Angle Port on the left and Port (Army technique) on the right

The Finial

The Spread Eagle (this is a Flying Eagle in the top photo) is for the office of the President only. That is a military standard, first responders get all of their color guard protocol from military manuals, and this is a standard that should be followed. Flag companies really need to get with this standard and stop pushing eagle finials. Spread, Flying, or Landing Eagle, should not be used.

The Guidon Bearer Personal Salute

The Salute

The bearer of the American flag also never renders any kind of salute*. This woman is executing a guidon bearer’s personal salute. A guidon bearer, when outside of a formation, does not salute with the guidon, that would be unsafe. Instead the left arm is brought across the torso, forearm horizontal and fingers extended and joined, to render a salute when required.

The Reason

For posting this photo and writing about it: education and training- and that’s it. This picture shows a lack of training and pointing out the mistake is not meant to tear down, but to educate. The more we can learn by others’ mistakes, the hopefully less mistakes we all will make. I love the uniforms, by the way.

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

*This is why the MCO states that the national bearer does not turn their head for Eyes Right/Left when at Carry/Right Shoulder (it’s a form of salute). This is for the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard. The Army, Air Force, and Space Force national bearer turns their head (I do not think they should, but this is the standard).

Updated June 2022

Comments 2

  1. Does this also mean that a color guard formation in general should not salute with a rifle/guidon salute? Or can they, just without the American Flag bearer rendering a salute?

    1. Post

      Mr. Mell,

      That is a very good question. It has never been authorized for a color bearer following the regulation drill standard (TC 3-21.5, MCO 5060.20, and AFMAN 36-2203). WHen it comes to ceremonial drill, I have this story. Many years ago, while I was still Active Duty (mid 2000s), the USAF Honor Guard passed down a change of saluting when the colors are presented at Port (what we see here). Instead of dipping the non-national staff to Angle Port, the color bearer was to simply flip their had from the USAF Port position to the guidon bearer salute on the first note and flip it back to Port on the last note. My Base Honor Guard colors team may have accomplished this maybe twice before another message was sent out doing away with the previous message with no reason for the original change or why we were changing back to dipping the staff. A week might have passed between each message.

      My guess is that the guidon individual salute is only for the guidon bearer outside of a formation so, using it within a formation is outside of the prescribed use of the salute. Also, the flip of the hand is barely noticeable and lacks the quality desired for a color guard.

      Outside of the military, I can only recommend not using it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *