Honor Guard Training Q and A with The DrillMaster

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard, Honor Guard Training, Instructional 8 Comments

Do you have an honor guard question?

I am happy to answer it!

Q: We already have 9 people committed to being on the Honor Guard. Is there a minimum/maximum that is desired?

A: For my courses, yes, 12-25 trainees. For an honor guard, no, not really. Most of what you will do will be colors presentations for ceremonies and parades. A color team needs 4 people as the minimum. Actually, you could march a 3-man team, if need be, with just the American flag, but that is not usual. Six or 8 members are required for pall bearers and a firing party is made up of a minimum of 4: one commander and three to fire. Pall bearers can make up the firing party, so if you had a funeral, then you would need at a bare minimum, 4 for the color team and six for the pall bearers/firing party. If you have a LODD, I’m sure you won’t have any problem finding more volunteers that you could train to carry the casket and then post off to the side somewhere while the rest of the trained honor guard perform the ceremonial duties. Part of the course is training in the six-man flag fold and you can record it and use it over and over for your internal training. I’ll also teach your team the 2-man flag fold which is much easier to perform, especially at the last minute.

Q: We were hoping to coordinate with a local pipes and drums band to be present for some of our services, is that something you could provide feedback on during the academy as far as how to go about including that?

A: Pipes and drums are part of the honor guard family, but perform separately. It would be relatively easy to include them in any kind of ceremony as you would just work out a certain signal with the drum major for them to play. I don’t think you would need my help with that, although this is a legitimate question (as are all of your questions) for a team that is just beginning. I suggest contacting another pipe and drum unit to get their input.

Q: We as of yet have no equipment.

A: I suggest purchasing equipment first. Equipment is very necessary, distinct uniforms are not (read below for my explanation).

Q: We will be purchasing uniforms, and I am wondering if they should differ from our Dress “Class A” uniforms? Should the uniforms be purchased and tailored prior to the training?

A: Having completely different uniforms requires quite a bit of money (www.lighthouse.com is good). I think this should be last on your list, here is what I recommend: 1) obtain equipment; 2) secure training; 3) create distinctive honor guard uniforms at some point in time. You could make your Class A uniform distinctive by adding an Honor Guard arc to the left/right shoulder and a shoulder cord or aiguillette to the left for a fraction of the cost of outfitting your team with new uniforms. Stripes down the trouser legs and around the blouse sleeves is a nice, relatively inexpensive addition as well. Creating a completely different uniform is so very expensive and can be upwads of $1000 for each team member.

Q: Regarding the rifles, should one be purchased for every member?

A: A color team requires two rifle guards. I think it would be a good idea to have four or even six riufles so that more members can train at the same time with the rifles. I also suggest that you obtain the same number of colors, staffs and harnesses.

Q: How much time do you need ahead of time to prepare for the course and scheduling?

A: I can be ready in as little as two weeks and think it would be good for you to order your equipment, setup a tentative training date, advertise it to other state departments to get 20-25 trainees and then get with me when you have the funding to take care of the training- I want to emphasize that, if you want to, you could run two one-week academies and have half of your team trained each week while having the other 10-15 trainees coming from other departments, thereby defraying your costs considerably while having only half of your team off their normal duties. Just food for thought.

Q: I just want to verify for our training that the cost is all inclusive for your fees/travel/room and board?

A: Yes, everything is included in the cost: course fee, travel, room and board.

Q: Would we be conducting the graduation mock funeral at a cemetery?

A: I’ve had a mock funeral at a funeral home and one at the front of a public library. Anywhere you would like, we can probably work it out.

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Comments 8

  1. Hello,
    I created a drill but we have some cadets on their knees do you know of a spin that that can maintain their kneeling pose but add excitement to my drill? I am creating it for the following year.

      1. Post
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      Hi Angel,

      Thank you for your question.

      I appreciate your owning my books, I do hope they have been helpful. In my books I don’t deal with specific situations like that, but we can deal with it here.

      Kneeling presents problems and opportunities. The problems stem from the rifle possibly hitting the ground during vertical spins. The opportunities come from digging into our imagination and experience to develop moves with and without the rifle that maybe no other team has done before.

      To get into specifics, I would need to know the the rifle work that is performed as the team members kneel. Then I can try to visualize some options for you.

  2. Good Afternoon Sir,

    I have a Color Guard with (2) rifle bearers, the National colors, The Marine Corps Colors, and the Navy Colors. How do I have them conduct a counter-march?

    Thank you for your time.


    William Clarke

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      Mr. Clarke,

      Thank you for your question. This will take much more ability to type than I have with my thumb on my phone. I will give you a detailed explanation in the morning. Until then, please go to my Downloads page, download and read the four parts of the Marine Corps drill and ceremonies manual.

    2. Post

      Here is the text from MCOP5060.20:

      1. The command is “Countermarch, MARCH.” It may be executed while halted, marking time, or marching. When marking time or marching, the command of execution “MARCH” is given as the left foot strikes the deck. When this command is given while marking time or marching, the color guard will take one more 2-inch vertical step in place or one more 30-inch step forward with the right foot before starting the half steps for this movement. If executed from the halt, the color guard will immediately begin the designated steps starting with the left foot. (See figure 7-18.)
      2. The national color bearer pivots to the left, moving into the position formerly occupied by the organizational color bearer, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.
      3. The organizational color bearer takes one half step forward, pivots to the right outside the national color bearer, moving into the position formerly occupied by the national color bearer, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.
      4. The right color guard takes two half-steps forward, pivots to the left, outside the organizational color bearer, moving into the position formerly occupied by the left color guard, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.
      5. The left color guard takes three half-steps forward, pivots to the right outside the right color guard, moving into the position formerly occupied by the right color guard, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.
      6. Upon completion of this movement, the entire color guard marks time until it is halted or until it receives the command “Forward, MARCH” or “Colors, HALT.”

      And now watch this to get a better understanding: https://youtu.be/jZMIpxAbzkc?t=1m7s. The cadet’s command voice is not per the manual, so please ignore that.

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