Half-staff

All About The Flag

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This article used to be All About Flag Sizes that I wrote back in 2013 but I felt it needed expanding.

Nomenclature

The Outside Flag

  • Garrison: 20′ x 38′
  • Post flag: 8′ 11 3/8″ x 17′ (Army) and 10′ x 19′ (MC/N/CG)
  • Field flag: 6’8″ x 12′ (Army)
  • Storm flag: 5′ x 9’6″ (Army) and 5′ x 9′ (MC/N/CG)
  • Internment flag: 5′ x 9’6″ (use cotton only!)
  • boat flag: 3′ x 4′ (3′ x 5′)
  • Ensign: 2′ 4 7/16″ x 4’6″

The Indoor-Outdoor Flag

  • Indoor-Outdoor/ceremonial display (pole hem, with or without fringe): 3′ x 4′ and 4’4″ x 5’6″

Fringe

A flag does not have fringe when it is flown from a stationary (at right) or mounted pole (just below). These are outside flags and are never fringed.

an_outrigger_pole_set flagpolefarm-com

A flag for a color guard has fringe and is what a color team carries and presents or posts. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard do not have fringe on the National Ensign.

Joint Color Guard with Indoor-Outdoor Flags (pole hems)

The Army and Air Force require fringe on all flags. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard forbid fringe on the national but require fringe on the departmental and organizational.

Now we come to the ceremonial requirement for (pictured below). Except for American-only colors formations, none of the national flags carried by the honor guards in DC have fringe because some other countries don’t allow fringe on their flags or have fringe that looks like shag carpet. International agreements dictated that, in situations like this, all national flags will not have fringe (UN & NATO). In international situations here in the US, no fringe on any national flag, regardless of the service.

Joint Cordon Arrival Ceremony (No fringe on the national flags)

Color Guard Flag Sizes

  • US flags: 3’ x 4’, 3’ x 5’, 4’4” x 5’6”
  • Departmental flags: 3’ x 5’ and 4’4″ x 5’6″
  • Military organizational flags: 3’ x 4’
  • General/Admiral flags: 3’ x 4’ and 3’ x 5’
  • JROTC organizational flags: 3’ x 4’
  • Civil Air Patrol flags: 3′ x 4′ or 3′ x 5′ 8 3/8″ (CAPR900-2 Section B)
  • Young marines: 3′ x 4′ or 4’4” x 5’6” (MCO 10520.3)
  • Sea Cadets: 3′ x 4′ or 4’4” x 5’6” (NTP 13 B)

State flags

US Army Regulation 840-10, Section 7-11 states that state flags shall be 3′ x 4′ or 4’4″ x 5’6″. However, one question that DeVaughn Simper of Colonial Flag receives from National Guard is: which guidance do they follow? the AR or the State statute?” He refers them to their chain of command since that decision is usually handled by the state Adjutant General.

  • Each state has a different statute as to the legal size of the flag.
  • Utah: 3 ‘x 5’
  • New York: 3′ x 6′ (1:2 ratio)
  • Rhode Island: 3′ x 3.5′ (1:1.3 ratio)
  • Connecticut: 3′ x 3.8′ (1:1.3 ratio)

Mount and carry the smaller flags on eight-foot flagstaffs and the larger flags sizes on nine-foot six-inch flagstaffs. These are the only two sizes used by a military or military-type color teams, except the Air Force.

The USAF had the 10′ staff as the taller one, but a recent change in AFI 34-1201 has 9′ for the taller size. When posting colors, the AF recommends the 7′ staff (this size of staff is not authorized for any other colors situation).

Note: The US Army does not have a size restriction for staffs and flags. You will often see an Army color guard carrying the 9.5′ staff with 3′ x 4′ flags mounted. I think it looks a bit odd, but the flag material stays out of the team’s faces.

Now read up on All About the Color Guard Nomenclature of the American Flag, All About the Flagstaff, Flagstaff Ornaments, The Only Time the Spread Eagle is Used, How to Properly Mount a Flag on a Flagstaff, To Fringe or not to Fringe, that is the Question

A BIG thank you to DeVaughn Simper of Colonial Flag for helping with the flag size information!

The Arena/Rink Colors Presentation

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The colors have been presented at rodeo and other horse riding events for decades with riders on horseback making a circuit around the arena and circling back to come to the center. The whole time keeping the colors in the proper order. Sometimes the the two color bearer riders are accompanied by unarmed guards on horseback. Other times it’s just the two color bearers. Either is fine.

The same thing goes for other unique colors presentations like a color guard on skates at a hockey game. This time, however, guards must accompany the colors per your service drill and ceremonies manual or, in the case of first responders, The Honor Guard Manual.

Carrying the colors out of order is inappropriate. As a guide, I created the above diagram to ensure proper carriage of the colors. The diagram below shows the color bearers turning on their respective initial sides and that puts the colors in the wrong position and must be avoided.

Wrong

The Pallbearer Deck

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Trussville Police and Fire Department
Certified United States Ceremonial Guardsmen

Firefighters use an apparatus (fire truck) as a caisson to transport the casketed remains of a fallen fellow firefighter. The hose bed is where the casket rests, but the hose bed, depending on the type of apparatus, can be quite high making it difficult to load and remove the casket. That’s where the Pallbearer Deck comes in.

Extremely Portable!

Download the PDF directions by clicking here. If there is anything in the directions that I missed or should be added/changed, please let me know.

Firefighter Jesse Clifton of Trussville (AL) Fire Department and I talked about this in passing when I was there in 2019 training and certifying both the police and fire honor guard units. I finished teaching there, went to Missouri to teach for another week, visited Whiteman AFB Honor Guard and by the time I was headed back to Trussville, Jesse had bought the materials, created the plan in his head, and built the whole thing! The only information I provided was, “I think the deck should be ‘this’ big” after we had some of the trainees stand together. The only requirement for the deck was that I needed to be able to collapse it and fit it into my trailer.

Posting Other Organization’s Colors

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You may have come across this situation: You receive a call from a local organization asking for your color guard to post the colors at an event. What throws a bit of a wrench into the request is that the event coordinator wants you to post their colors. They have flags and stands and have dreamed up a big production with your team bringing in their colors.

Don’t.

Possible Scenarios

  1. Your team arrives, goes to practice with the organization’s flags and you find that besides the American and state flags, there is a unique flag of the organization and maybe even a religious flag.
  2. You find flags that have lived in the corners of an auditorium and the last time they were touched was June 29th, 1973. They are full of dust and have permanent creases from hanging there so long.
  3. The flags won’t come out of the stands.
  4. There are eight flags displayed in stands, but you are asked to post two or three. Plus, you don’t have the manpower to post all of them anyway.

Avoid Those Scenarios!

US military and cadet color guards cannot carry ANY OTHER FLAGS except what is outlined in your regs. In general that means only the US, (state, city, county – Army and USAF only), and military departmental and organizational flags. The purple heart group’s flag or the POW flag, anything like that, you cannot carry. These flags are not authorized in a military color guard.

For First responder color guards, I would use the exact same restrictions. You wear a uniform, represent that civil service, and nothing else.

But How?

The “Show-N-Go”.

  1. Arrive at least one hour before the ceremony in travel/fall out uniform.
  2. Leave the organization’s flags posted where they are.
  3. Bring your set of colors.
  4. Practice several times and ensure event organizer knows exactly what you are doing.
    1. Event Organizers: the color guard will do their best to accommodate you, but they have strict guidelines and they will not deviate from them. As far as the event is concerned, the color guard commander is your color guard protocol expert and his decision is final.
  5. Break from practice with enough time to change into your appropriate uniform.
  6. At ten minutes prior to the event, setup at Stand at Ease/Parade Rest out of the way of the audience.
  7. At the appointed time the MC says something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the presentation of the colors.”
  8. The color team enters at Right Shoulder/Carry, centers on and turns to the audience.
    1. Entering from stage right: Every Left On.
    2. Entering from stage left or executing the snake-in from the center aisle: Colors Turn On or Left Face.
  9. Formally present the colors for the National Anthem (military colors do not dip for the Pledge).
    1. Event Organizers: Either the Anthem or the Pledge, not both.
    2. Play/sing the Anthem or recite the Pledge only after the color guard commander has given the command of Present Arms.
  10. Go to the Port position to depart (do not leave at Right Shoulder/Carry as your flags are not longer the focus).
    1. If exiting to stage right: Colors Turn Off or Right Face.
    2. If exiting to stage left or up the center aisle: Every Left Off.
  11. Pack up and change into travel/fall out uniform.
  12. Receive accolades.
  13. Depart for home.

Posting colors should be reserved for very special occasions. Retrieving the colors should be for extremely formal occasions only. Once you post the colors for a volleyball game, posting has lost its significance even though there’s nothing wrong with a volleyball game. Just present the colors, don’t post.

Formally presenting a second set of colors should be your team’s standard for the majority of colors details requests you receive.

How Many?

We will use two categories for posting the colors. Above, we fully developed External Posting except for the number of colors to post. External would be for an organization outside of yours.

  • Army and Air Force can post up to four flags: US, state/city/county, and departmental.
  • Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard can post two flags only: National ensign and departmental/organizational.
  • First Responders usually post US, state, and city/county.

Internal Posting would be for your organization with few, if any, outsiders.

  • Army and Air Force can post up to four flags: US, state/city/county, departmental, and organizational.
  • Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard can post two flags only: National ensign and departmental/organizational.
  • First Responders usually post US, state, city/county, and the department’s flag.

A note on posting: Bringing in two flags (for example) with other flags already posted is not the best situation. It’s not unheard of, but not the best thing to do. However, there is one caveat to this: Personal colors, General’s/Admiral’s and Senior Executive Office flags, are not carried and posted.

Sunglasses in Uniform

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When you have to carry an urn for a funeral but you have to look cool at the same time.

The usual, every-day wear is authorized in the US military, just not in formation, unless prescribed by a doctor.

No sunglasses for pallbearers or, for that matter, color guard, firing party, and even the bugler – sunglasses cut off your communication from those you are supposed to be serving.

There is a very good reason behind this. It’s not personal preference, it looks bad, putting up a wall of sorts between you and everyone else, the exact opposite of why you are there.

What about the Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? They have special sunglasses made for them for safety. That style of sunglasses isn’t even available to the public.

Whether you are on a US military or first responder honor guard, in this article are reasons why you would wear sunglasses – prescription or you are a Sentinel. And then there are reasons why you should not wear sunglasses – not authorized in formation and they cut you off from the next of kin. That’s enough to have you and your team not wear shades for any ceremony.

Flag Sliding Down Staff

How to Avoid a Color Guard Disaster

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Flag Slipping Down Staff
National ensign sliding down staff with wrong USN flag

For honor guard units, drill teams and color guards. I could make this article very short and just write: Check your equipment before every use. It’s that simple. The best thing to do is constant maintenance on your equipment and using two methods to secure the flag to the flagstaff. It really is that simple, but you should also do a little more, just in case.

In the pictures you can see that the American flag slid down the flagstaff during a performance. A big mistake from which the cadets (pictured at top) recovered, thankfully. On the right, they had a more difficult time.

If you have an instance where there is an issue with the flag that can fixed by having one of the rifle guards take care of it, do so. Better to ensure the safety of the colors and team, than to hope the problem goes away. For more on this situation, read the article, “Guard, Fix the Flag”.

Prepare and Maintain

If you have not properly initially prepared your equipment and are not maintaining that equipment, you are begging for problems during a performance.

See also this article about creating Drill Buddies for your team.

And Just to be Sure

For every performance, take along a box of supplies. A tackle box is a good choice since it has all kinds of small compartments and a couple of large ones as well. Here is what to keep in it (not an exhaustive list, you decide what goes in yours to be best prepared).

  • Uniform buttons, a couple of each size
  • Safety pins, several of different sizes
  • Bobby pins, at least 10
  • Uniform and cover (hat) brass/insignia
  • Lint rollers
  • Several different uniform ribbons (it is probably not necessary to bring different devices)
  • One each size of gloves
  • Rifle sling
  • Sling hardware
  • Heel and sole dressing
  • Uniform trouser belt
  • Ceremonial belt
  • Black uniform socks
  • Small screw drivers
  • Jeweler’s screw driver set for glasses
  • Scissors
  • Fast-drying strong glue
  • A roll of duct tape
  • Portable sewing kit
  • Extra name tags
  • What else???

Make a list of items contained in the box and keep the list in the box. When anything is used, replace it immediately upon return to your unit. That way, you will never be without!

Semper Paratus

The motto of the Coast Guard. It means, always prepared.

See semper paratus
Know semper paratus
Be semper paratus

DrillMaster Instagram Page

DrillMaster Instagram Hash Tags

DrillMaster Announcements, DrillCenter News, Instructional Leave a Comment

Instagram is a great place to learn. I use to post my Micro Training Moments as I call them. Searching on Instagram or even the internet using these tags will open up all kinds of great information Below is a list of DrillMaster-specific tags and below those, some generic tags.

DrillMaster Tags

  • #DrillMasterMetronome – Information that helps you understand the importance of training and practicing with e metronome (app on your phone) and how to accomplish it.
  • #MakePathfindersGreatAgain – Specifically for Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders.
  • Drill
    • #MovementPhasing – Information on synchronous movement.
    • #MarchingWithSuspendedArmSwing – A technique that can be tough to master.
    • #FootPrepFacingMovement – A helpful tool created by the DrillMaster when teaching facing movements.
    • #BodyPrepFacingMovement – A helpful tool created by the DrillMaster when teaching facing movements that includes a look at the whole body.
    • #MakeRegulationDrillGreatAgain
    • #MakeCommandsGreatAgain – Specifics related to calling commands.
    • #MakeMarchingGreatAgain – Specifics related to marching techniques.
  • #DrillMasterArticle #DrillMasterPodCast #DrillCenter
  • #DrillMaster_BeAccountable – A DrillMaster education program.
  • Outside Flagpole Display
    • #MakeFlagDisplayGreatAgain – This is regarding outside flagpole displays.
    • #MakeReveilleAndRetreatGreatAgain – Flag raising and lowering have standards. Really.
    • #MourningRibbon
  • Color Guard
    • #ColorsTurnOn and #ColorsTurnOff – color guard movement techniques.
    • #AmericanFlagHigher – A myth. Yes, a myth. It is not always supposed to be higher.
    • #FlagstaffFinials – The flagstaff toppers or ornaments.
    • #FishPoling – When the lower ferrule of the flagstaff pushes forward.
    • #ExhibitionColorGuard – No, it’s not a “thing”. This tag has pictures and video of colors presentations that use unauthorized moves and positions.
    • #HarnessSocketCrotchSyndrome – For some reason many color bearers feel it necerssary to adjust their colors harness so that the socket/cup rests on or even below the crotch when it is supposed to be around a couple of inches below the waist.
    • #PresentingTheColors #MakeColorGuardGreatAgain #MakeFlagProtocolGreatAgain #PostingTheColors #ColorGuardEquipment #ColorsEquipmentMaintenance #FlagstaffNomenclature
    • #AuthorizedCAPFlag – There are only two authorized Civil Air Patrol Flags.
  • Weapons
    • #MakeRifleManualGreatAgain
    • #StackingSwivel – Educating everyone about the difference in the upper sling swivel and the stacking swivel of the M1 and M1903 rifles and where the sling really goes.
    • #MakeTheManualOfArmsGreatAgain – Specific to rifles.
    • #MakeCeremonialAxeManualGreatAgain – For firefighters on color guard.
    • #MakeSwordManualGreatAgain – This covers all of saber and sword techniques, including the sword Arch/Arch of Steel for an honor cordon.
  • #honorcordon – Cadets call this an honor guard, saber/sword team, and probably other names. It’s where two lines of people face each other while dignitaries walk through. This can be with rifles, swords, sabers, or unarmed.
  • #MakeUniformWearGreatAgain – Specifics on uniforms.
  • #MakeYoungMarinesGreatAgain
  • Flag Related
    • #MakeFoldedFlagCarryGreatAgain – There are certain techniques used to carry a folded American flag. Applies here and also to honor guard pallbearers.
    • #MakeFlagFoldingGreatAgain
    • #KnowYourFlagCode
  • #HonorGuard
    • #MakeItMoreCeremonialer #Ceremonialer – This came about because standards don’t seem to be enough for some, there must be a bigger, better, faster way to present the colors or another ceremonial element.
    • #MakeHonorGuardGreatAgain #MakeBaseHonorGuardGreatAgain #MakeCeremonialDrillGreatAgain
    • #CasketProtocol
    • #JointServiceColors #JointServiceColorGuard
  • #EverythingIsWrongStartOver – Exactly what it says.
  • #ThEyREjusTchILdreN – this tag is about untrained cadets who have presented the colors without understanding standards. Someone associated with the image then cries out that standards don’t matter because they are only children!
  • #MakePOWFlagProtocolGreatAgain #MakeThePOWTableGreatAgain
  • #MakeFlakingGreatAgain – A tongue-in-cheek look at WHY people fall out when in formation.
  • #TheDrillMaster
  • #DrillMasterInQatar – A few posts from when I taught American exhibition drill in Qatar.
  • #TheDrillMasterExplains
  • #InstructorMisconduct – It happens on a relatively consistent basis.

Generic Military Drill-Related Tags

  • #ceremonialguard
  • #RegulationDrill
  • #usarmy #usmc #usnavy #usaf #uscg
  • #JROTC #AJROTC #MCJROTC #NJROTC #AFJROTC
  • #CAP #CivilAirPatrol #SeaCadets #YoungMarines
  • #ExhibitionDrill #DrillTeam
  • #ColorTeam #ColorGuard
  • #pow #powmiaceremony #powmiatable #missingmantable

AF Colors Whiteman AFB Dec 2019

The “Why” of the Military Color Guard – Air Force

DrillMaster Color Guard, Color Guard/Color Team, Instructional Leave a Comment

The second in the series, let’s review the US Army’s standards:

  • Air Force: AFMAN 36-2203, AFI 34-1201, & AFPAM 34-1202.

The Guards

There are always two guards.

Equipment

Decades ago, each of the services used their military police to form color guards. The guards were armed with handguns. This is where the tradition comes from that only the guards wear web or pistol belts (used in CAP). However, belts are not mandatory, as shown in the AFMAN pictures.

Swords, sabers and fixed bayonets are not authorized for a color guard. How do we know this? Because the AFMAN shows exactly what is authorized.

Color Bearers

The Air Force uses the guidon manual for the flagstaff with minor adjustments (e.g. not pushing the flagstaff forward but pushing the guidon staff forward at Parade Rest) to account for the flag. The team is addressed as “Color Guard” as in, Color Guard, HALT!

The Air Force barely uses the regulation drill technique information out of AFMAN 36-2203 for a color guard except for AFJROTC. Base Honor Guards have taken on the majority of tasks and use ceremonial drill techniques. Currently, the ones who use the techniques the most are the Training Instructors at Lackland AFB (Joint Base San Antonio) and some Air National Guard and Reserve units without Base Honor Guard support.

The 2013 and 2018 editions of AFMAN 36-2203 have switched the color bearers to holding the staff with the left hand. The previous version had wrong text stating the left hand should be on the staff, but the pictures showed the right hand (the proper technique). The current version updated the pictures to actually show the wrong technique with the wrong text description. While I’ve been saying that the AFMAN has been wrong for years, an Air Force agency specifically told the office of primary responsibility for the AFMAN that the left-hand pictures and text were wrong, but the OPR published anyway. The USAF has never used the left hand on the staff. None of the services have done so. For the AF to change, it would not be a simple text and picture update, because it affects not only AF regulation drill, but the AF Honor Guard, with an impact on the other services and that’s just not going to happen. The left-hand hold technique is wrong, even though.

Where the AFMAN seemingly lacks in information, it is found in the other service manuals. Airmen and AFJROTC cadets are to read AFMAN 36-2203 and follow the techniques pictured (hand positions, fingers, etc.). Rifle guards then use MCO 5060.2 for transitions (because they are at the outside shoulder at Carry) and color bearers use TC 3-21.5 for transitions all while still using USAF guidon staff techniques. AFI 34-1201 and AFPAM 34-1202 have equipment information and other standards that apply. You can download these from the Resources page.

Of significant importance is the position for the commander of an Air Force color guard. This goes for everyone who wears a blue uniform and commands the team. You move with the color guard when you call the team to Attention. You do not go to Attention first. This applies to color guard, flag raising/lowering detail, and parade staff.

Equipment. Traditionally, belts were only worn by the guards. Belts are not currently required. Colors harnesses are mandatory for the color bearers at all times. Why? because the pictures show them and the text mentions them.

2.34.3. Flag Cases. Flag cases are made of any suitable material, preferably waterproof, with sufficient length and width to cover flags when not displayed. Use flag cases to cover flags when being stored or carried on other than ceremonial occasions.

2.34.4. Flag Slings. Flag slings (sometimes referred to as harnesses) must be used at all times to carry flags during outdoor ceremonies. Flag slings are black, patent leather with silver buckles for dress occasions. For practice or non-dress occasions, black leather (non-patent) or dark blue slings are authorized.

2.34.5. Bases. A weighted, silver colored base is the preferred base for use by the Air Force. Upon replacing or purchasing new bases through attrition, the silver colored base should be purchased.

AFI 34-1201

Minimum Mandatory flags an their positions. Notice that the American flag is NEVER carried in the middle of two or more flags and always to the right.

2.11. Order of Precedence of Flags.
2.11.1. The United States Flag.
2.11.2. Foreign national flags. Normally, these are displayed in alphabetical order using the English alphabet. When in NATO countries, NATO member country flags are displayed in French alphabetical order.
2.11.3. Flag of the President of the United States of America.
2.11.4. State and territorial flags. State flags should be displayed in order of admittance of the state to the Union. Territorial flags, when displayed, are displayed after the state flags in the order they were recognized by the United States.
2.11.5. City Flags
2.11.6. Departmental Flags

AFI 34-1201

The Commander.

7.32.1.3. The senior flagbearer carries the US flag, commands the color guard, and gives the necessary commands for movements and rendering honors. The junior flagbearer carries the Air Force flag. The Air Force flag is placed on the marching left of the US flag in whatever direction the flags face. When only the US flag is carried, the color guard is composed of one flagbearer and two guards. The Air Force flag is never carried without the US flag.

2.2 Rules for Commands

2.2.2. When the commander is a member of a staff or detail and is required to perform a movement at the same time as the formation, the commander will maintain the same position as the formation while giving commands and will respond to his/her command.

AFMAN 36-2203

Spacing and Staffs.

7.32.2. With the flagbearers in the center, the color guard is formed and marched in one rank at close interval.

7.33.2. The staff is inclined slightly to the front.

AFMAN 36-2203

Saluting. Below states the only times that the USAF flag may be dipped. You don’t just dip the flag every time Present Arms is called. These restrictions mandate that the USAF flag will not be carried in competitions because the team must render a salute to the judge. In that case, the state flag should be carried in its place, but the state flag cannot replace the USAF, AFJROTC, or CAP flag at any other time. This includes the Pledge of Allegiance. Departmental and organizational flags are not dipped for the Pledge.

7.35.1. The Air Force departmental flag is an organizational flag and is dipped while the National Anthem, “To the Color,” musical honors for CSAF or higher or a foreign national anthem is played. The departmental flag is also dipped when rendering honors to the SecAF, the CSAF, their direct representative or any government official of equivalent or higher grade, including foreign dignitaries. Additionally, the departmental flag and other subordinate flags will be dipped during military funeral honors.

AFMAN 36-2203

Carrying Nonmilitary Flags. The USAF does not specifically address this issue, but the Army does. The following means that your team cannot carry flags like the POW/MIA (addressed in AFI 34-1201), Military Order of the Purple Heart, or any other non-government or military flag. State and territory flags are authorized.

Chapter 1, 1-7

f. Carrying of nonmilitary organizational flags. U.S. military personnel in uniform or in civilian clothing acting in an official capacity will not carry flags of veterans’ groups or other nonmilitary organizations; however, commanders may authorize military personnel to carry State and territorial or national flags during military ceremonies.

AR 840-10

Joint Service Standards.

2.11.7.19. In Joint Service Color Teams, the Army carries the United States Flag and commands the color team as the senior service. Rifle guards nearest the United States Flag are Army and the Marines on the far end of the Joint Service Color Team.

AFI 34-1201

Foreign National, State, and Territory Flags.

Table A2.1. Table of Honors

Note 9. For events honoring foreign dignitaries, the flags of the foreign country of the guest(s) being honored should be included in the color guard when available.

AFI 34-1201

Flags.

2.22. United States Air Force Departmental Flag. There are two authorized sizes of the United States Air Force Departmental Flag. The ceremonial (4 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 6 inches) is authorized for optional use with streamers. The smaller Air Force flag (3 feet by 4 feet) will not be used with streamers. Uses and descriptions for each size are detailed below. These provisions also apply to Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard organizations.
2.22.1. The ceremonial size United States Air Force Departmental Flag, with or without streamers, is 4 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 6 inches, and is trimmed on three edges with a rayon fringe of yellow 2 inches wide. The ceremonial size of the United States Air Force Departmental Flag also serves as the Headquarters United States Air Force flag.
2.22.5. The 3 feet by 4 feet version of the Air Force Departmental Flag is identical in design to the ceremonial size, but is displayed without streamers. This smaller version may be used on all occasions the larger ceremonial flag may be used; however, it is not to be used with streamers. Its size matches identically with the size of the General Officers’ flags and the Air Force Senior Executive Service flag and should be used in ceremonies or events in which all flags need to be the same size.
2.22.6. When displayed with departmental flags of other United States military services, precedence is as follows: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
2.22.7. When displayed or carried with flags of other Air Force organizations, foreign national flags, or State flags, the order of precedence is as follows: The United States Flag, foreign national flags, state flags, Air Force flag, and flags of other Air Force organizations.

AFI 34-1201

2.8.4. Securely fasten to the flagstaff to prevent sliding down the staff during the event.

AFPAM 34-1202

Flagstaffs.

2.34.1.2. Ceremonial and Organizational. Use flagstaffs at all times when displaying or carrying ceremonial or organizational flags. Only flagstaffs displaying ceremonial size flags (4 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 6 inches) are 9 [previous version stated 10 feet, all other services use 9.5 feet -DM] feet in length. When displaying other sized flags, the flagstaffs can be either 7 or 8 feet in length plus the staff ornament. When displaying 3 feet by 4 feet flags, a flagstaff of 7 feet in length is recommended and the flagstaff of 8 feet in length is an option; the flagstaff of 9 feet in length should not be used. Flagstaffs can be one piece or a breakdown style and should be ash in color.

AFI 34-1201

2.8.1. Use the same size and type of flagstaff.

AFPAM 34-1202

Finials.

2.34.2. Staff Ornament, Flagstaff Head or Finial. The decorative device at the top of a flagstaff is the finial. It is precedence the eagle finial be used only with the Presidential flag. However, if the United States Flag is displayed with the Presidential flag, then both may have the eagle finial. The spearhead, acorn, and ball finials that were previously used are no longer Air Force standard. Upon replacing or purchasing new finials through attrition, the eagle, spearhead, acorn, or ball should not be purchased. All finials in a display or ceremony should be the same. This does not restrict the display of a state flag from a staff bearing a state device when national and other state flags are displayed from adjacent flagstaffs; however, the Air Force does not provide such devices. The following finials are authorized for flags used by Air Force organizations:
2.34.2.2. Spade, silver in color (primary finial used by the Air Force).

AFI 34-1201

The “Why” of the Military Color Guard – Marine Corps, Navy, & Coast Guard

DrillMaster Color Guard, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard, Honor Guard Training, Instructional Leave a Comment

The third in the series, let’s review the US Army’s standards:

  • Marine Corps, Navy, & Coast Guard: MCO 5060.2 and MCO 10520.3
  • Navy & Coast Guard adds: NTP 13B

The Guards

There are always two guards.

Equipment.

Decades ago, each of the services used their military police to form color guards. The guards were sometimes armed with handguns, but usually used rifles, especially if an infantry unit. Handguns are still authorized as of 2019.

Swords, sabers and fixed bayonets are not authorized for a color guard. How do we know this? Because the MCO shows exactly what is authorized. One caveat to this is mounted color guards. Only mounted teams (Barstow, CA) are authorized to use swords.

General
m. Color guards do not fix bayonets.

MCO 5060.20

Rifle guards have worn web belts in every uniform combination since the early days of the service. Pictures in the MCO show all members of the color guard with web belts.

Color Bearers

The team is addressed as “Colors” as in, Colors, HALT!

Equipment.

b. Flag Cases. Flag cases will be used to cover ceremonial and organizational flags when being stored or carried on other than for ceremonial occasions.
c. Flag Slings. Flag slings will be used at all times to carry ceremonial or organizational flags during ceremonies.

MCO 10520.3

5. Composition of the Color Guard

a. Slings are adjusted so that the colors are the same height when at the carry or, if this isn’t possible, the national colors are slightly higher than the organizational colors. If necessary, have the senior color bearer slightly taller than the organizational color bearer. All members of the color guard wear the pistol belt (white belt if in blues); the color bearers wear the pistol belt over the sling to keep the sling firmly in place. If the color guard is wearing the service or dress cover, then they use two chin-straps. One is worn normally and the second one is worn under the chin.

i. The color bearers are unarmed, but the color guards carry either pistols or rifles (except when inside a chapel). Only color guards mounted on horseback carry the noncommissioned officer’s sword vice a rifle or pistol. When participating in a ceremony inside a chapel, the color guard will be unarmed and uncovered.

MCO 5060.20

The Commander. Notice here that this is it. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard color guard carries only two flags. No more, unless working joint service.

5. a. Two noncommissioned officers are the color bearers and two other members, junior to the color bearers, are the color guards. The senior color bearer carries the national colors and commands the color guard.

MCO 5060.20

Minimum Flags and their Positions.

Composition of the Color Guard
a. The standard Marine Corps color guard consists of four individuals of approximately equal height. Two noncommissioned officers are the color bearers and two other members, junior to the color bearers, are the color guards. The senior color bearer carries the national colors and commands the color guard. The junior color bearer carries the organizational colors, which is always on the left of the national colors. When only the national colors is carried, the color guard will include only one color bearer.
b. Color guards carrying the Navy and Marine Corps service colors will consist of five members, three Marines and two Navy members. The national color bearer and commander of the color guard will be a Marine.
c. A Joint Armed Forces Color Guard will consist of eight members; three Army, two Marine, one Navy, one Air Force, and one Coast Guard. The national color bearer and commander of a joint color guard will be a Soldier. The respective service colors are aligned to the left of the national colors.

MCO 5060.20

Saluting.

5. b. Salutes by the Organizational Colors a. Once the color guard is at present colors, and when appropriate, the organizational color bearer will render a salute with the organizational colors by straightening the right arm and lowering the staff naturally to the front. The staff will rotate naturally as it goes forward causing the sharp edge of the spearhead to face down. [For Navy and Coast Guard units that have the battle-ax finial, do not rotate the staff on Present. -DM]

b. Salutes by the organizational colors are not automatic when presenting colors. They will be rendered only during honors to national colors, to the commander of the organization represented by the colors or to an individual senior in rank to the organizational commander; (e.g., during a parade or review when the adjutant presents the command to the commander of troops. The organizational colors does not salute, unless the commander of troops is the organizational commander or of higher rank.)

c. When musical honors are played, the organizational colors will salute on the first note of music. The colors will be returned to the vertical position following the last note of music or the last volley of a gun salute. If no music is to be played and a color salute is appropriate, the organizational colors will salute immediately after the color guard has gone to present colors.

MCO 5060.20

Spacing and Staffs.

5. h. The color guard is formed and marches in one rank at close interval with the color bearers in the center. While marching, members of the color guard do not swing their free arms. The color guard does not execute to the rear march, about face, flanking movements or fix bayonets.

MCO 5060.20

Carrying Nonmilitary Flags.

5. f. The flags or banners of non-U.S. military organizations (e.g., Boy Scouts, Kiwanas Club, etc.) are not carried in the color guard.

MCO 5060.20

Enclosure 1

4. Carrying Flags of Foreign Nations and Non-Military Organization. Marine Corps personnel may carry flags of foreign nations in official civil ceremonies when an official of the nation concerned is present in his official capacity and is one for whom honors normally would be rendered. In this capacity the flag of the foreign nation will be carried by a separate color guard (normally three Marines). This color guard will be preceded by a Marine Corps color guard during the ceremony. In all other public events or ceremonies, Marine Corps personnel in uniform and in an official capacity are not authorized to carry flags of foreign nations, veterans groups, or other nonmilitary organizations.

MCO 10520.3

Foreign National, State, and Territory Flags.

5. e. The national colors of foreign countries will not normally be carried by the same color guard carrying the United States colors. When necessary, refer to reference (j).

j. All colors carried by the color guard are attached to staffs of equal height. The standard color staff consists of a 9 ½-foot, hardwood pole capped at each end by metal ferrules. The use of the all-metal staff is only authorized for Marine Barracks, Washington, DC. A metal spearhead screws into the top of the staff and a streamer attachment device may also be affixed to display an organization’s award streamers. (See figure 7-5.) Streamers are placed with the senior streamer at the front of the staff. Subsequent streamers are then placed clockwise, around the staff, as symmetrically as possible.

MCO 5060.20

Flags.

1. a. The national flag is also called the “national ensign” or “ensign.”

c. When mounted on a staff (pike) and carried by an individual on foot, or displayed or cased in a fixed location, the national flag is
called the “national colors” and the organizational flag is called the “organizational colors.” The term “colors” means either or both the national colors and the organizational colors.

(1) The use of the plural form of the word color (colors) to designate a single flag, ensign, standard, or pennant comes from the ancient tradition of referring to the multiple colors found on these types of standards. This tradition is carried on today when we refer to the national colors; red, white, and blue and the Marine Corps colors; scarlet and gold. The plural form is also used when referring to the types of movements, ceremonies or musical accompaniment involving the colors, (i.e., carry colors, morning colors, “To the Colors,” etc.).

d. When mounted on a vehicle, the national flag is called the “national standard” and the organizational flag is called the “organizational standard.” The term “standard” means the national standard only. The term “standards” means both the national standard and the organizational standard.

q. The U.S. Flag, when displayed or carried on a staff (pike) is adorned with a red, white, and blue rope and tassel. The organizational colors are adorned with a scarlet and gold rope and tassel. However, once a unit has been awarded a streamer, the rope and tassel is removed from the organizational colors and a streamer attachment set added between the upper ferrule and the spearhead. Ropes and tassels are affixed to the top of the staff between the two ribs of the upper ferrule using a girth hitch knot. (See figure 7-5.)

MCO 5060.20

3. National Standard g. The use of fringe on national colors or standards within the Marine Corps is prohibited. [This also goes for the Navy and Coast Guard -DM]Colors and Standards

d. [For the USMC color -DM] Except when streamers are authorized, each standard shall have attached below the spearhead of the staff a cord of scarlet and yellotN threads approximately 3/8-inches in diameter and 8 feet 6 inches in length, with a tassel at each end.

f. There are two type’s of Flags or Organizational Standards. These flags are contained in a joint service specification with Marine Corps flags designated as Type III flags.

(1) Type III, Class 1, Command Battle Standard and Organizational Standard, USMC Type III, Class 1. The name of the organization is
embroidered on the scroll. This flag is only authorized for Commandant Approved Command Slated billets (See Figure 3-1) . The “Battle Standard” is the distinguishing flag authorized for Headquarters Organizations, to include units at the battalion/squadron level of the Operating Forces, Supporting Establishment Commands, Marine Corps Reserve and the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (USMCJROTC) which requires the organization embroidered on the scroll.

(2)Type III, Class 2, Organizational Standard USMC. The words United States Marine Corps are embroidered on the scroll (See Figure 3-2) This flag is authorized for Supporting Establishment. See Appendix A for descriptive information.

MCO 10520.3

Flagstaffs. Notice that there is only one size of staff. Where the Army and AF use 8′ staffs with the smaller flag or the 9.5′ (AF 9′) with the larger flag, the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard are required to use only the 9.5′ staff.

1. t. National and organizational colors will only be carried on wooden 9 ½-foot flagstaffs.

5. j. The standard color staff consists of a 9 ½-foot, hardwood pole capped at each end by metal ferrules.

MCO 5060.20

Enclosure 1

Accessories
a. Flagstaffs. Flagstaffs will be used at all times when displaying or carrying ceremonial or organizational flags. Flagstaffs and components authorized for use within the MarIne Corps follow.
(1) Flagstaff, colors and standards, 9′ 6″
Components:
Flagstaff 8′ 9 7/8″ W/2 No, 7, 3/4″ round head wood screws
Spearhead section
Connector section
Ferrule

MCO 10520.3

Finials.

5. j. A metal spearhead screws into the top of the staff and a streamer attachment device may also be affixed to display an organization’s award streamers. (See figure 7-5.) [Figure 7-5 shows exactly the staff, ferrules, middle screw joint, and finial. -DM]MCO 5060.20

Next: Air Force Standards!

Old Guard Color Guard

The “Why” of the Military Color Guard – US Army

DrillMaster Color Guard, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard Training, Instructional Leave a Comment

The second in the series, let’s review the US Army’s standards:

  • Army: TC 3-21.5, AR 600-25, & AR 840-10

The Guards

There are always two guards.

Equipment

Decades ago, each of the services used their military police to form color guards. The guards were sometimes armed with handguns, but usually used rifles if an infantry unit.

Swords, sabers and fixed bayonets are not authorized for a color guard. How do we know this? Because the TC shows exactly what is authorized. One caveat to this is mounted color guards. Only mounted teams (1st Cavalry Division is one of about five in the Army) are authorized to use swords and are sometimes dressed in historic uniforms.

Rifle guards have worn web belts since the early days of the service. Pictures in the TC show all members of the color guard with web belts.

Color Bearers

First, I want to give the order of Precedence. Same goes for flag precedence.

3. PRESCRIBED PROCEDURE
By virtue of the authority vested in the Secretary of Defense, under the provisions of reference (b), and pursuant to agreement with the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Commerce, members of the Armed Forces of the United States and Merchant Marine midshipmen shall take precedence in the following order when in formations:
3.1. Cadets, United States Military Academy.
3.2. Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy.
3.3. Cadets, United States Air Force Academy.
3.4. Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy.
3.5. Midshipmen, United States Merchant Marine Academy.
3.6. United States Army.
3.7. United States Marine Corps.
3.8. United States Navy.
3.9. United States Air Force.
3.10. United States Coast Guard.
3.11. Army National Guard of the United States.
3.12. Army Reserve.
3.13. Marine Corps Reserve.
3.14. Naval Reserve.
3.15. Air National Guard of the United States.
3.16. Air Force Reserve.
3.17. Coast Guard Reserve.
3.18. Other training organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in that order, respectively.

Provided, however, that during any period when the United States Coast Guard shall operate as part of the United States Navy, the Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Reserve, shall take precedence, respectively, next after the Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy, the United States Navy, and the Naval Reserve.

Dod Dir 1005.8

The Army uses the guidon manual for the flagstaff with minor adjustments (e.g. not pushing the flagstaff forward but pushing the guidon staff forward at Parade Rest) to account for the flag. The team is addressed as “Colors” as in, Colors, HALT!

Equipment.

Belts are mandatory on all team members. Colors harnesses are mandatory for the color bearers- even if not used (e.g. indoors with low clearance). Why? because the pictures show them and the text mentions them.

The Team Commander.

For veteran groups, first responders, and cadets the position is called the commander. For Soldiers, the position is the Color Sergeant.

15-4 Color Guard

The senior (Color) sergeant carries the National Color and commands the Color guard. He gives the necessary commands for the movements and for rendering honors.

TC 3-21.5

The Command Sergeant Major (or representative) may command the team from in front of and facing the team for the uncasing and casing sequences only or the team commander can do that (see paragraph 15-6). The only other time a CSM may command the team from outside the formation is during a formal dining-in. At no other time does anyone command the team other than the team commander (see note at the end of paragraph 15-8).

Minimum Mandatory flags and their positions. Notice that the American flag is NEVER carried in the middle of two or more flags and always to the right.

15-2. THE COLOR AND COLORS

The National and organizational flags [minimum mandatory flags – DM] carried by Color-bearing units are called the National Color and the Organizational Color.

TC 3-21.5

f. The National Color is given the honor position and is carried on the marching right of positional and organizational Colors (positions – DM). The United States Army flag is carried to the immediate left of the National Color. The organizational Color of the senior headquarters sponsoring the ceremony is carried to the left of the Army flag [this would be the AJROTC flag – DM].

AR 600-25

2-4 a (2) When the flag of the United States is carried in a procession with other flags, the place of the flag of the United States is on the marching right.

AR 840-10

Saluting. Below states the only times that the US Army flag may be dipped. You don’t just dip the flag every time Present Arms is called. These restrictions mandate that the US Army flag will not be carried in competitions because the team must render a salute to the judge. In that case, the state flag should be carried in its place, but the sate flag cannot replace the US Army or AJROTC flag at any other time. This includes the Pledge of Allegiance. Departmental and organizational flags are not dipped for the Pledge.

15-3. Salutes a. The organizational Color salutes (dips) in all military ceremonies while the National Anthem, “To the Color,” or a foreign national anthem is being played, and when rendering honors to the organizational commander or an individual of higher grade including foreign dignitaries of higher grade, but in no other case. The United States Army flag is considered to be an organizational Color and, as such, is also dipped while the National Anthem, “To the Color,” or a foreign national anthem is being played, and when rendering honors to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, his direct representative, or an individual of equivalent or higher grade, but in no other case.

TC 3-21.5 and AR 600-25 state the same thing

1-4. Flags. The organizational color or standard will be dipped in salute in all military ceremonies while the United States National Anthem, “To the Color, ” or a foreign national anthem is being played, and when rendering honors to the organizational commander, an individual of higher grade including foreign dignitaries of higher grade, but in no other case. The United States Army Flag is considered to be an organizational color and as such is also dipped while the United States National Anthem, “To the Color,” or a foreign national anthem is being played, and when rendering honors to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, his direct representative, or an individual of higher grade including a foreign dignitary of equivalent or higher grade, but in no other case.

AR 600-25

Eyes Right is executed While marching from Carry and when static at Carry and Order. The rifle guards do not execute Present Arms because the command is Eyes, RIGHT! and not Present, ARMS!

Spacing and Staffs.

15-4. Color Guard

b. The Color guard is formed and Marched in one rank at Close Interval, the bearers in the center. They do not execute Rear March or About Face.

f. When in formation with the Color company, and not during a ceremony, the Color bearers execute At Ease and Rest, keeping the staffs of the Colors vertical.

15-14. POSITION OF THE COLORS AT THE CARRY

At the Carry, rest the ferrule of the staff in the socket of the sling. The socket is below the waist and adjusted to ensure that the finials of all Colors are of equal height (Figure 15-7). Grasp the staff with the right hand (even with the mouth) and incline it slightly to the front with the left hand securing the ferrule in the socket. The left hand may be positioned immediately below the right hand to more firmly secure the Colors on windy days.

TC 3-21.5

Carrying non-military flags. The following means that your team cannot carry flags like the POW/MIA, Military Order of the Purple Heart, or any other non-government or military flag. State and territory flags are authorized.

Chapter 1, 1-7

f. Carrying of nonmilitary organizational flags. U.S. military personnel in uniform or in civilian clothing acting in an official capacity will not carry flags of veterans’ groups or other nonmilitary organizations; however, commanders may authorize military personnel to carry State and territorial or national flags during military ceremonies.

AR 840-10

Foreign national, state, and territory flags.

4-1, 6, (b) When displayed or carried with flags of U.S. Army echelons, foreign nationals, or State flags, the order of precedence is the U.S. flag, foreign national flags, State flags, U.S. Army flag (ceremonial or display), and flags of Army echelons.

7-14, e. U.S. military personnel may carry flags of foreign nations in official military ceremonies when an official of that nation is present in an official capacity and is one for whom honors would normally be rendered.

AR 840-10

Flags.

2-3 b. National flags listed below are for indoor display and for use in ceremonies and parades. For these purposes, the flag of the United States will be of rayon banner cloth or heavyweight nylon, trimmed on three sides with golden yellow fringe, 2 1/2 inches wide. It will be the same size or larger than other flags displayed or carried at the same time.
(1) 4-foot 4-inch hoist by 5-foot 6-inch fly. This size flag will be displayed with the U.S. Army flag, organizational flag of ACOMs, positional colors (table 3–1), the Corps of Cadets’ color, the 1st Battalion, 3d Infantry color, the 4-foot 4-inch by 5-foot 6-inch chapel flag and the individual flag of a general of the Army.
(2) 3-foot hoist by 4-foot fly. This size flag will be displayed with the Army Field flag, distinguishing flags, organizational colors, and institutional flags of the same size. It will also be displayed within the offices listed in c below when no other positional or organizational flags are authorized.

AR 840-10

Flagstaffs. There is a big bone of contention with some regarding this information. The brown staff is not authorized. Only the two-part guidon staff made of light ash wood is authorized. Why? because all flagstaffs are the same and the pictures in TC 3-21.5 of the guidon manual and even the drawings of the flagstaff manual show only the two part guidon staff with silver metal upper and lower ferrules and middle screw joint.

8–1. Flagstaff
The flagstaff is the staff on which a color, distinguishing flag, or guidon is carried or displayed. Authorized flagstaff lengths for the following size flags are as follows:
a. Flagstaffs of national flags are the same length as flagstaffs of accompanying flags in paragraphs 5–1 b, c, and d [flag authorization table for Army echelons, includes SROTC & JROTC -DM].
b. Flagstaffs for President of the U.S. flag are 10 feet, 3 inches and 7 feet, 9 inches.
c. Flagstaffs for positional colors, distinguishing flags, and organizational colors are 9 feet, 6 inches or 8 feet. The flagstaff for all flags in a display will be the same length.
d. Flagstaffs for general officers flags are 8 feet.
e. Flagstaffs for guidons are 8 feet.

AR 840-10

Finials. The top of a flagstaff. Notice what this says below. No eagle, no ball, no spike, no nothing except the flat silver spade.

8-2, The flagstaff head (finial) is the decorative ornament at the top of a flagstaff. This does not restrict the display of a State flag from a staff bearing a State device when national and other State flags are displayed from adjacent flagstaffs; however, the Army does not provide such devices.
b. Spearhead (the spearhead is the only device used with Army flags).

AR 840-10

Next: Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard Standards