The Uniform and Presenting the Colors

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard 4 Comments

I post what I call Micro Training Moments on Instagram. You can see them at right. Over the years, I have centered around the color guard because there is so much that is urban myth surrounding presenting the colors and a large community of under-educated team members. Education is my calling and the color guard is at the top of the list.

Fairchild AFB (WA) SERE team Presenting the colors for their ceremony in the AF utility uniform

One of the sub-topics that comes up often is the uniform that a color guard wears when posting or presenting the colors. For those in the military (Active, Guard, & Reserve), we know that the color guard’s uniform should match the official party or at least the occasion. Read All About the Color Guard here.

  • If it’s a colors presentation in the field, we would expect everyone to be in their service utility uniform.
  • A change of command at a home base would most likely be in service dress/Class A.
  • Installation honor guard/ceremonial teams wear there ceremonial/Class A uniform 99.9% of the time for ceremonies. It’s rare but possible for a colors presentation in utilities.

To present the colors in a utility uniform in public is considered inappropriate. Even though you are only at a local baseball game, you still represent your service and should do so to the best of your ability.

Posting colors in the Rein-Main (GE) community in the AF ceremonial uniform

Cadet programs should follow the same guidance, Class A or even B is the appropriate uniform- all of the time. There isn’t a reason to present in utilities for cadets that I can think of except possibly this: Friday night football game colors presentation and a drill meet the following day. I understand that completely and would hope that others do as well.

The Formal Occasion

However, what about the formal occasion where everyone is in mess dress or the service dress combination with bow tie? These two formal uniforms do not require a cover, which does not meet the color guard standard. In this formal situation, the color guard does not dress to match. The Class A/Ceremonial Uniform is the top uniform for the color guard. A mess dress or Class A with bow tie combination are not appropriate for a color guard.

After the colors presentation, you can always change into a formal uniform if you so desire. Just don’t do as the cadet did in the picture at the top and present in a bow tie with an unauthorized white shirt (no collar).

Comments 4

  1. If the official party/UOD for a change of command is the utility uniform, would it be appropriate for the Color guard to also wear Utilities. Additionally, what would be the regulation backing that (Specifically Air Force)

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      AFI 34-515, Honor Guard, has some info in it to not “out dress” the official party, if I remember correctly. On base, whatever uniform the official party wears, the BHG can also wear although the standard uniform is ceremonials.

      Off-base ceremonies require ceremonials all the time.


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      I do not study service uniform standards at that level. I do know that each service drill and ceremonies manual addresses authorized uniform wear in the photos and in reference to required equipment (belt and color). I’m not aware of cover requirements, but would steer clear of the utility uniform unless absolutely necessary.


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