When a rifle is in front of your body at an angle with the muzzle dissecting the left shoulder and butt stock over the right hip, that is the Port Position. If both of your hands are in the proper place, that is called Port Arms. There are different versions of Port Arms, depending on what you are doing (ceremonial, regulation, or exhibition drill) and your branch of service.
Port Arms is used when marching at double time with a guidon. Please keep in mind though, that a guidon is not a color.
The Port Position, as described above, is not authorized for a flagstaff/color, it is not a very dignified position for carrying our nation’s flag, or other flags in a ceremonial situation. Marines running PT with the national flag at Port is another matter.
The Navy, Marines and Coast Guard do have a position for the color that is very similar to the honor guard Port Arms, it’s called Trail Arms.
Here is Trail Arms for a color, but only for the three aforementioned services. It is used when traveling in formation for short distances.
Port For Colors
The Air Force and Space Force Honor Guard Port Arms position has both rifle guards at Port and the color bearers in the Port for Colors position (my term)- bottom ferrule of the staff off the marching surface 4″ to 6″ and the left forearm horizontal across the body (4″ from the torso) with fingers extended and joined.
While Port for Colors is a ceremonial technique (feet together), there is nothing wrong with adopting it for regulation drill (feet at 45) applications. If you need to use it, please do. The position was developed for a reason.
A variation to this is to have the left forearm across the body, but have the left hand grasp the staff. I appreciate this technique more since it provides greater stability for the staff and virtually eliminates “Fishpoling”, (think of Huckleberry Finn, the ferrule end of the staff pointing forward and the staff angled over the shoulder, like you are going fishing).
So then, what is one to do when moving in a color guard formation and there is a doorway or very low ceiling? Go to what is called, “Angle Port.”
You have probably not heard of Angle Port because it is a ceremonial position created by the military honor guards (although, the MCO does describe the position without naming it). Why this is not in service drill and ceremonies manuals, I don’t know- it would be very helpful for those out in the field, so to speak. Here is the Angle Port position:
The command to get here is Bearer’s, Ready Two. “Bearers” is to identify the color bearers. The command is called from Port. A full explanation is in my book, The Honor Guard Manual.
If the silk (flag material) falls forward and is at risk of touching something beneath it, grasp the staff with your right hand behind the left while keep the staff at the same angle and pull the staff back toward your torso so that you can gather the silk over the left forearm (as shown above). Regrasp the staff with the left above the right and place the right at a flare at the rear of the staff. Guidelines:
- When marching, gather the flag regardless.
- When halted and at Present (with a low ceiling, Angle Port is also Present), if the flag is not at risk of touching anything else, leave it hang forward.