Which Flag For the Anthem?

DrillMaster DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

I received such a great question this morning that I had to create an article from it.

The Question

Greetings, I am the parent of a high school varsity football player. At this seasons first game, I noticed that during the presentation of the colors by the school’s JROTC and the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, half the team/audience was looking at the flag pole at the end of the field and half at the color guard on the field. I searched the internet and could not find an answer and hope you would respond to this question. Where should the team and audience direct their attention when a color guard is presenting the colors during the playing of the national anthem?

The Answer

Sir, this is a very good question. The answer is facing either flag is “correct”. However, what the color guard is doing is called a formal presentation of the colors. It is more appropriate to face the flag that the color guard is presenting since the whole purpose of the team to be there is to present the flag.

I suggest having the announcer say something like this, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the presentation of the colors and the Star-Spangled Banner and direct your attention to the XYZ color guard at center field/court.” XYZ would be “the Tiger Battalion” or other identifier associated with the color guard.

Army Pallbearers US Army photo

Who is Authorized Military Funeral Honors?

DrillMaster DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

The references for this article are the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000, Public Law 106-65 section 578, and DoDI 4515.19. MFH = Military Funeral Honors.

Standards

This is an extract from DoDI 4515.19.

POLICY.
a. Support for congressional funerals will be provided, as appropriate and as authorized by law, upon request from Congressional leadership or where necessary to carry out DoD duties and responsibilities.
b. Former member of Congress (herein after referred to as “Member”) who are military veterans and meet the criteria in section 1491 of Title 10, United States Code are authorized military funeral honors pursuant to DoD Instruction 1300.15; a former member who is not a veteran is not entitled to military funeral honors. (emphasis mine)

There is no exemption, no “but in this case”. When a member of Congress dies in office and the body will lie in state, the joint service pallbearers carrying the casket into and out of the Capitol building seems quite appropriate, but that’s it. The casket is shipped back to the state he/she represented and state police can take over from there. The same goes for state elected government officials. If one is not a veteran of the US military, no MFH.

The same DoD Instruction was applied here. Senator Orrin Hatch was not authorized MFH. https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/letters/2022/05/10/letter-orrin-hatch-was/

Standards

The following is the text of Public Law 106-65, Section 578 under Subtitle J—Other Matters. This is the Defense Authorization Act that created the requirement that all military who died on Active Duty, retirees, and veterans receive MFH. This began it all that sent base and post honor guards scrambling for a few years to try to catch up to the demand.

SEC. 578. FUNERAL HONORS DETAILS FOR FUNERALS OF VETERANS.

(a) RESPONSIBILITY OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE.—(1) Subsection

(a) of section 1491 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

‘‘(a) AVAILABILITY OF FUNERAL HONORS DETAIL ENSURED.—

The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that, upon request, a funeral honors detail is provided for the funeral of any veteran.’’.

(2) Section 1491(a) of title 10, United States Code, as amended by paragraph (1), shall apply with respect to funerals that occur after December 31, 1999.

(b) COMPOSITION OF FUNERAL HONORS DETAILS.—(1) Subsection

(b) of such section is amended—

Applicability. Effective date. 10 USC 1491 note.

(A) by striking ‘‘HONOR GUARD DETAILS.—’’ and inserting

‘‘FUNERAL HONORS DETAILS.—(1)’’;

(B) by striking ‘‘an honor guard detail’’ and inserting ‘‘a

funeral honors detail’’; and

(C) by striking ‘‘not less than three persons’’ and all that

follows and inserting ‘‘two or more persons.’’.

(2) Subsection (c) of such section is amended—

(A) by striking ‘‘(c) PERSONS FORMING HONOR GUARDS.—

An honor guard detail’’ and inserting ‘‘(2) At least two members of the funeral honors detail for a veteran’s funeral shall be members of the armed forces, at least one of whom shall be a member of the armed force of which the veteran was a member. The remainder of the detail’’; and

(B) by striking the second sentence and inserting the following: ‘‘Each member of the armed forces in the detail shall wear the uniform of the member’s armed force while serving in the detail.’’.

(c) CEREMONY, SUPPORT, AND WAIVER.—Such section is further amended—

(1) by redesignating subsections (d), (e), and (f) as subsections (f), (g), and (h), respectively; and

(2) by inserting after subsection (b) the following new subsections:

‘‘(c) CEREMONY.—A funeral honors detail shall, at a minimum, perform at the funeral a ceremony that includes the folding of a United States flag and presentation of the flag to the veteran’s family and the playing of Taps. Unless a bugler is a member of the detail, the funeral honors detail shall play a recorded version

of Taps using audio equipment which the detail shall provide if adequate audio equipment is not otherwise available for use at the funeral.

‘‘(d) SUPPORT.—To provide a funeral honors detail under this section, the Secretary of a military department may provide the following:

‘‘(1) Transportation, or reimbursement for transportation, and expenses for a person who participates in the funeral honors detail and is not a member of the armed forces or an employee of the United States.

‘‘(2) Materiel, equipment, and training for members of a veterans organization or other organization referred to in subsection (b)(2).

‘‘(e) WAIVER AUTHORITY.—(1) The Secretary of Defense may waive any requirement provided in or pursuant to this section when the Secretary considers it necessary to do so to meet the requirements of war, national emergency, or a contingency operation or other military requirements. The authority to make such a waiver may not be delegated to an official of a military department other than the Secretary of the military department and may not be delegated within the Office of the Secretary of Defense to an official at a level below Under Secretary of Defense.

‘‘(2) Before or promptly after granting a waiver under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall transmit a notification of the waiver to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and House of Representatives.’’.

(d) REGULATIONS.—Subsection (f) of such section, as redesignated by subsection (d)(1), is amended to read as follows:

Notification.

‘‘(f) REGULATIONS.—The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section. Those regulations shall include the following:

‘‘(1) A system for selection of units of the armed forces and other organizations to provide funeral honors details.

‘‘(2) Procedures for responding and coordinating responses to requests for funeral honors details.

‘‘(3) Procedures for establishing standards and protocol.

‘‘(4) Procedures for providing training and ensuring quality of performance.’’.

(e) INCLUSION OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE SELECTED RESERVE IN PERSONS ELIGIBLE FOR FUNERAL HONORS.—Subsection (h) of such section, as redesignated by subsection (d)(1), is amended to read as follows:

‘‘(h) VETERAN DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘veteran’ means a decedent who—

‘‘(1) served in the active military, naval, or air service (as defined in section 101(24) of title 38) and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable; or

‘‘(2) was a member or former member of the Selected Reserve described in section 2301(f) of title 38.’’.

(f) AUTHORITY TO ACCEPT VOLUNTARY SERVICES.—Section 1588(a) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

‘‘(4) Voluntary services as a member of a funeral honors detail under section 1491 of this title.’’.

(g) DUTY STATUS OF RESERVES IN FUNERAL HONORS DETAILS.—

(1) Section 114 of title 32, United States Code, is amended—

(A) by striking ‘‘honor guard functions’’ both places it appears and inserting ‘‘funeral honors functions’’; and

(B) by striking ‘‘drill or training otherwise required’’ and inserting ‘‘drill or training, but may be performed as funeral honors duty under section 115 of this title’’.

(2) Chapter 1 of such title is amended by adding at the end

the following new section: ‘‘§ 115. Funeral honors duty performed as a Federal function ‘‘(a) ORDER TO DUTY.—A member of the Army National Guard of the United States or the Air National Guard of the United States may be ordered to funeral honors duty, with the consent of the member, to prepare for or perform funeral honors functions at the funeral of a veteran under section 1491 of title 10. However, a member of the Army National Guard of the United States or the Air National Guard of the United States may not be ordered to perform funeral honors functions under this section without the consent of the Governor or other appropriate authority of the State concerned.

‘‘(b) SERVICE CREDIT.—A member ordered to funeral honors duty under this section shall be required to perform a minimum of two hours of such duty in order to receive—

‘‘(1) service credit under section 12732(a)(2)(E) of title 10; and

‘‘(2) if authorized by the Secretary concerned, the allowance under section 435 of title 37.

‘‘(c) REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES.—A member who performs funeral honors duty under this section may be reimbursed for travel and transportation expenses incurred in conjunction with such duty as authorized under chapter 7 of title 37 if such duty is performed at a location 50 miles or more from the member’s residence.

‘‘(d) REGULATIONS.—The exercise of authority under subsection

(a) is subject to regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.’’.

(3) Chapter 1213 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

‘‘§ 12503. Ready Reserve: funeral honors duty ‘‘(a) ORDER TO DUTY.—A member of the Ready Reserve may be ordered to funeral honors duty, with the consent of the member, in preparation for or to perform funeral honors functions at the funeral of a veteran as defined in section 1491 of this title.

‘‘(b) SERVICE CREDIT.—A member ordered to funeral honors duty under this section shall be required to perform a minimum of two hours of such duty in order to receive— ‘‘(1) service credit under section 12732(a)(2)(E) of this title; and ‘‘(2) if authorized by the Secretary concerned, the allowance under section 435 of title 37.

‘‘(c) REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES.—A member who performs funeral honors duty under this section may be reimbursed for travel and transportation expenses incurred in conjunction with such duty as authorized under chapter 7 of title 37 if such duty is performed at a location 50 miles or more from the member’s residence.

‘‘(d) REGULATIONS.—The exercise of authority under subsection

(a) is subject to regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.

‘‘(e) MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL GUARD.—This section does not apply to members of the Army National Guard of the United States or the Air National Guard of the United States. The performance of funeral honors duty by those members is provided for in section 115 of title 32.’’.

(4) Section 12552 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

‘‘§ 12552. Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans ‘‘Performance by a Reserve of funeral honors functions at the funeral of a veteran (as defined in section 1491(h) of this title) may not be considered to be a period of drill or training, but may be performed as funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title’’.

(h) CREDITING FOR RESERVE RETIREMENT PURPOSES.—(1) Section 12732(a)(2) of such title is amended—

(A) by inserting after subparagraph (D) the following new subparagraph:

‘‘(E) One point for each day on which funeral honors duty is performed for at least two hours under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32, unless the duty is performed while in a status for which credit is provided under another subparagraph of this paragraph.’’; and

(B) by striking ‘‘, and (D)’’ in the last sentence and inserting ‘‘, (D), and (E)’’.

(2) Section 12733 of such title is amended—

(A) by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (5); and

113 STAT. 629

(B) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following new paragraph (4):

‘‘(4) One day for each point credited to the person under subparagraph (E) of section 12732(a)(2) of this title.’’.

(i) BENEFITS FOR MEMBERS IN FUNERAL HONORS DUTY

STATUS.—(1) Section 1074a(a) of such title is amended—

(A) in each of paragraphs (1) and (2)—

(i) by striking ‘‘or’’ at the end of subparagraph (A);

(ii) by striking the period at the end of subparagraph

(B) and inserting ‘‘; or’’; and

(iii) by adding at the end the following:

‘‘(C) service on funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32.’’; and

(B) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

‘‘(4) Each member of the armed forces who incurs or aggravates an injury, illness, or disease in the line of duty while remaining overnight immediately before serving on funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32 at or in the vicinity of the place at which the member was to so serve, if the place is outside reasonable commuting distance from the member’s residence.’’.

(2) Section 1076(a)(2) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

‘‘(E) A member who died from an injury, illness, or disease incurred or aggravated while the member—

‘‘(i) was serving on funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32;

‘‘(ii) was traveling to or from the place at which the member was to so serve; or

‘‘(iii) remained overnight at or in the vicinity of that place immediately before so serving, if the place is outside reasonable commuting distance from the member’s residence.’’.

(3) Section 1204(2) of such title is amended—

(A) by striking ‘‘or’’ at the end of subparagraph (A);

(B) by inserting ‘‘or’’ after the semicolon at the end of subparagraph (B); and

(C) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

‘‘(C) is a result of an injury, illness, or disease incurred or aggravated in line of duty—

‘‘(i) while the member was serving on funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32;

‘‘(ii) while the member was traveling to or from the place at which the member was to so serve; or

‘‘(iii) while the member remained overnight at or in the vicinity of that place immediately before so serving, if the place is outside reasonable commuting distance from the member’s residence;’’.

(4) Paragraph (2) of section 1206 of such title is amended to read as follows:

‘‘(2) the disability is a result of an injury, illness, or disease incurred or aggravated in line of duty—

‘‘(A) while—

‘‘(i) performing active duty or inactive-duty training;

‘‘(ii) traveling directly to or from the place at which such duty is performed; or

‘‘(iii) remaining overnight immediately before the commencement of inactive-duty training, or while remaining overnight between successive periods of inactive-duty training, at or in the vicinity of the site of the inactive-duty training, if the site is outside reasonable commuting distance of the member’s residence; or

‘‘(B) while the member—

‘‘(i) was serving on funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32;

‘‘(ii) was traveling to or from the place at which the member was to so serve; or

‘‘(iii) remained overnight at or in the vicinity of that place immediately before so serving, if the place is outside reasonable commuting distance from the member’s residence;’’.

(5) Section 1481(a)(2) of such title is amended—

(A) by striking ‘‘or’’ at the end of subparagraph (D);

(B) by striking the period at the end of subparagraph

(E) and inserting ‘‘; or’’; and

(C) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

‘‘(F) either—

‘‘(i) serving on funeral honors duty under section 12503 of this title or section 115 of title 32;

‘‘(ii) traveling directly to or from the place at which the member is to so serve; or

‘‘(iii) remaining overnight at or in the vicinity of that place before so serving, if the place is outside reasonable commuting distance from the member’s residence.’’.

(j) FUNERAL HONORS DUTY ALLOWANCE.—Chapter 4 of title 37, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

‘‘§ 435. Funeral honors duty: allowance

‘‘(a) ALLOWANCE AUTHORIZED.—The Secretary concerned may authorize payment of an allowance to a member of the Ready Reserve for any day on which the member performs at least two hours of funeral honors duty pursuant to section 12503 of title 10 or section 115 of title 32.

‘‘(b) AMOUNT.—The daily rate of an allowance under this section is $50.

‘‘(c) FULL COMPENSATION.—Except for expenses reimbursed under subsection (c) of section 12503 of title 10 or subsection (c) of section 115 of title 32, the allowance paid under this section is the only monetary compensation authorized to be paid a member for the performance of funeral honors duty pursuant to such section, regardless of the grade in which the member is serving, and shall constitute payment in full to the member.’’.

(k) CLERICAL AMENDMENTS.—(1) The heading for section 1491 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

‘‘§ 1491. Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans’’.

(2)(A) The item relating to section 1491 in the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 75 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows: ‘‘1491. Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans.’’.

(B) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1213 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

‘‘12503. Ready Reserve: funeral honors duty.’’.

(C) The item relating to section 12552 in the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1215 of such title is amended to read as follows:

‘‘12552. Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans.’’.

(3)(A) The heading for section 114 of title 32, United States Code, is amended to read as follows: ‘‘§ 114. Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans’’.

(B) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of such title is amended by striking the item relating to section 114 and inserting the following new items:

‘‘114. Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans.

‘‘115. Funeral honors duty performed as a Federal function.’’.

(4) The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 4 of title 37, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

‘‘435. Funeral honors duty: allowance.’’

Standards

We need to stop working from emotion and trying to make things “ceremonialer” just because. Protocol and standards are slipping away, even being ignored in some cases. We have laws, regulations, and instructions in place for a reason. Let’s follow them.

Modifying a Harness Socket

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Instructional Leave a Comment

Some of my Certified US Ceremonial Guardsmen in Pennsylvania decided to get to work and modify their sockets. This modification is necessary, in my view, if you cannot obtain a better (metal cup) socket.

Why this Type of Socket Was Created

Law enforcement officers wear a duty belt usually made of leather, it’s part of their duty and dress uniforms. Even when taking part in ceremonies where one might think a weapon is not needed, they wear their duty belt. Many officers have two belts, one for daily wear and one for ceremonial-type wear often made of Clarino, a type of shiny patent leather.

The Better Colors Harnesses

On the belt are the necessary things required for the job including one or two pair of handcuffs in pouches, a radio pouch, their sidearm holster, magazine holster, and possibly other things. It’s heavy to say the least. Add to this a shoulder strap (used in the military to support wearing a sword, for LEOs, it can support the sidearm) that some departments include and there is not much room for a standard color bearer harness.

Images courtesy of www.glendale.com

Now, after all that, add a color bearer harness as pictured above. In some ways it’s just not going to work very well and that is why this adaptation to a popular (because it’s cheaper) harness was made.

At left is the harness and an adaptation with a belt. The top image is the double harness. “Double” because of the straps. Having the bottom of each strap attach to the socket frame is not good at all for balance. The bottom image is an adaptation putting the socket on a belt.

The socket frame looks like a badge and I can see the attractiveness here. But these sockets are poor. The floor of the socket is flat plastic and the ferrule of a guidon flagstaff slides around. There’s no solid placement for the ferrule (and they look cheap) and that’s why I absolutely do not like them. I much prefer the sockets you see in the collage of the Better Colors Harnesses above.

The Adjustable Belt Socket

Now we come to the version that helps unclutter the LEO who has a duty belt with a shoulder strap. This socket attaches onto the front of the belt with the leather loops that have snaps and is adjustable, but just a tiny amount.

It’s this type of socket that created the need for the adjustable length (telescopic) aluminum flagstaff (yet another thing I do not appreciate in the least, again, it looks cheap, and is).

This is the socket that was modified. The team that uses them, Pennsylvania State Troopers (my awesome trainees), is experimenting with wearing the Clarino harness, but in the interim, they have modified these sockets and the modification is outstanding.

How to Modify

Below is the test of the process that Trooper Greg Brown developed.

The washer is absolutely secured as the glue cured very well.

  • Used a 3/4″ drill bit to make the hole.
  • Cleaned up the rough rough edges.
  • Cleaned the inside of cup and the 5/8″ washer w/ alcohol
  • Applied painters tape under the hole to prevent glue from running out
  • Applied Loctite Super Glue to the inside bottom of the socket & bottom side of washer, then also around outside edge of washer to seal against the inside wall of the socket.
  • Flipped the socket upside down & applied glue to the joint where cup & washer meet.
  • Cured for at least 24 hrs.
Before, during, and after

From the front, you cannot tell a hole was drilled. Only “issue” is that the washer is not beveled downward towards the hole like that of the harness we like, thus you don’t get any assistance with seating the ferrule. You need to make sure it’s properly seated. It can be done but will just take practice to develop the muscle memory…otherwise I feel its a great alternative for people who 1) can’t afford the higher-end harnesses or 2) have issues with proper harness wear (like we do with our rigs).

Pentagon River Entrance Arrival

Joint Service – Separated

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard, Instructional 2 Comments

I received a great question the other day. Why are the color guards at the Pentagon and sometimes at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier carrying the American and a foreign national flag with guards and what dictates the order of the manning for both teams?

Joint Service

A full joint service arrival ceremony for a foreign dignitary at the Pentagon River Entrance (pictured above) includes a cordon up the steps and two three-man color guards. The team to the viewer’s left of the entrance carries the American flag with two guards and the team on the right carries the foreign national flag with two more guards.

The team on the left is made up of a Soldier as right rifle guard, a Soldier bearing the US, and a Sailor as the left rifle guard. The team on the right is made up of an Airman as right rifle guard, a Marine bearing the foreign national, and a Coast Guardsman as the left rifle guard.

This is correct joint service order based on the foundation document DoD Dir 1005.8, Order of Precedence of US Armed Forces, which is also listed in service documentation. But how does this actually work out to be correct?

Joint Armed Forces Color Guard Order

*Currently, the USAF Honor Guard fills this position.

The Joint Service Color Guard is arranged like this: a Soldier as right rifle guard, a Soldier bearing the US, a Soldier bearing the Army departmental, a Marine on the USMC departmental, a Sailor on the USN departmental, an Airman on the USAF departmental, an Airman (eventually to be a Guardian) on the USSF departmental, and a coast Guardsman on the USCG departmental.

The order is based on the date of inception for each service. The Navy was taken out of service by the Continental Congress and then reinstated which is why it comes after the Marine Corps. The Coast Guard will be last in every lineup because they are not DoD. Only when Congress officially declares war does the CG come under the Department of the Navy and moves to the right of the AF.

Based on this information and what we find in each service drill and ceremonies manual, we find that the position of color bearer holds more importance than a guard. That is not to say a guard is necessarily less important, not at all, we need all members to form the team. Yet, the color bearer is going to be senior, with experience, and ability to lead and command.

Separated Breakdown

This brings us to the main photo at the top Why are the two color guards manned this way? Is there a logical sequencing? Yes, there is. Let’s take a look.

Joint Armed Forces Color Guards

Essentially, all you have to do is count through the numbers for seniority and see that the color bearers rank first, and then the guards.

**This has been a Coast Guard position for decades. With the creation of the Space Force, the Coast Guard moved down one position. This means that either the Coast Guard will not be represented in the colors element (although represented in the cordon and if protocol dictates an honor guard formation, in the platoon lineup) or the arrangement of the guards might change slightly. For example, the teams could look like this below.

Just a possibility of what might happen with the addition of the Space Force to the lineup
American Indian Color Guard

Tribal Nation Flag Protocol

DrillMaster DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

I received a message this morning that is perfect to help others understand this subject that many just don’t want to deal with. I’m dealing.

The Message

Good morning. My question lies with the correct order of precedence when carrying the flag of an American Indian nation flag in company with the US and state flags. I assume it is the US, the Indian nation then state, but I am drawing a blank trying to find a primary source reference that discusses this. I am going to run a color guard next month in the Nansemond Indian Nation reservation and would like to make sure I get this correct.

The Reply

This is an excellent question, sir. One that I have addressed in a couple of writings. There is some controversy over the issue, but I see it as cut and dry, honestly. Here are my thoughts:

According to the Supreme Court, an American Indian Reservation is a SOVEREIGN NATION. On reservation soil then the tribal flag takes precedence over the American flag, all flags.  The color guard would look like this: Right Rifle Guard, Tribal Flag Bearer, US Flag Bearer, State Bearer, Left Rifle Guard. If the color guard were to march in a local parade off of the reservation, then the US and tribal colors would switch.

I see it as the exact same situation where we in the military serve overseas and when we present the colors on the grounds of a US military cemetery, the American flag is carried to the far right. The host nation flag is then next to the left. After the ceremony, if there is a parade downtown, the colors switch places*.

*This is only for Army, Air Force, and Space Force teams, the others must form a separate three-man team for the foreign national, tribal, or US territory flag.

Again, some people do not support my thoughts here, wanting the US to always be on the marching right. I can understand that, but I also think it comes from a lack of situational understanding.

Essentially, you can form your color guard either way on tribal land and still be correct.

It’s about time, actually we’ll passed time, that guidance was set at both the federal and state level.

Please make sure the flags are in correct order and not backwards as shown here

The OTHER Unarmed Color Guard

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

About the image at the top: The cadets here are in a middle school leadership program that is similar to high school JROTC. Some middle schools do not have the funding for equipment and some schools choose not to issue rifles.

Armed and Unarmed Teams

In the JROTC competitive drill world, teams are split into two categories, Armed and Unarmed. For each category a single school can enter four teams into competition for a drill meet, an armed drill team, an unarmed drill team, an armed color guard, and an unarmed color guard.

An Unarmed Color Guard?

The Armed and Unarmed categories do not apply to the color guards, only the drill teams. Even though a color guard is entered into the Unarmed category, the guards still carry rifles, it’s required by all three drill and ceremonies manuals. The categories create the ability for a school to enter two color guards and therefore more cadets can participate.

An Unarmed Color Guard

A color guard inside a chapel is usually unarmed but it depends on the chaplain. He can always allow the guards to carry rifles. It’s always best to check rather than assume.

Unfortunately, this requirement is only explained in Marine Corps Order 5060.20. All of the service honor guards (ceremonial drill) follow this guidance, but many people outside of the ceremonial drill world do not know about it from only reading the the regulation drill manuals.

Below is an image of the Commandant’s Four, the color guard from Marine Barracks Washington (MBW). Marines assigned to MBW, also called “8th and I” because it’s on the corner of those two streets, are the Marine Corps’ Honor Guard performing ceremonial drill. They are presenting the colors in the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly called the Washington Cathedral. Inside the church, the color guard is uncovered (they do not wear hats) and the guards are unarmed (when a salute is required, they render the hand salute). In this photo, the team is in the middle of executing Countermarch in their unique MBW style that is not authorized for the Fleet or cadets. The national color (American flag) bearer is then Sgt Kenneth Newton, 37th Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps.

Our Situation

With the God-given right to keep and bear arms under constant threat, JROTC is beginning to come into view. For decades, law-abiding citizens as well as cadets have used firearms without issue. All Army and Marine Corps (possibly Navy as well) JROTC units were issued demilitarized M1 Garands and M1903s when they began as units. From what I gather and my own experience, Air Force JROTC units were not issued rifles until the late 1980s and early 1990s and most of them received the new Daisy Drill Rifle.

Daisy has made air guns for over 100 years and began manufacturing the drill-purpose rifle in the 1990s. The rifle, along with the Glendale DrillAmerica rifle, has now replaced a majority of the demilitarized rifle in JROTC programs around the world. These replica rifles are essentially very well made toys. This is not to downplay their purpose and use, but the reader must understand that while they look like the real thing, it is impossible to use them as a rifle except for drill and ceremonies.

The New Unarmed Color Guard

I received two messages not long ago relating a similar story. Suddenly, the school principal is not letting the school’s JROTC program use the replica rifles in the color guard.

The main question was, is there a specific regulation that says a color guard is required to have the guards armed? The answer is, absolutely. You wear the service’s uniform and you are in the service’s program. You and your fellow cadets fall under applicable service regulations. TC 3-21.5, MCO 5060.20, and AFMAN 36-2203, all require the guards to be armed. However, that argument alone not going to get you what you want.

A Political Move

While some may want to deride the seeming idiocy of a political decision like this, it is the principal’s prerogative to make these decisions for on- and off-campus activities because the cadets represent the school. Some schools have even overridden the requirement to wear a cover (hat) in uniform.

Make an Argument

I suggest that you spread the word among cadets and parents and bring this up to the school board in a respectful manner. Once you have a large group of supporters at the school board meeting, you can respectfully let your collective voice be heard. It’s my belief that if you go solely down the road of “the (service) requires the guards to carry rifles, it says so right here”, you won’t get far at all.

Make your argument from here: The Benefits of Military Drill. Write up a short speech and tell the board. Have a couple of cadets speak who have excelled at drill and improved after marching or rifle spinning.

You should mention the requirement, but your emphasis needs to be on the benefits of not only marching but handling equipment as well. In the military, we carry and use rifles, swords, and flagstaffs. These are weapons of war that have been brought into the ceremonial and exhibition drill worlds so that we can train, practice, and perform to the best of our abilities no matter what the situation.

Even if you don’t change anyone’s mind, you can still be a part of and learn from the process.

The Argument From AFMAN 36-2203

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Commentary, Instructional, Judge Training, Regulation Drill 2 Comments

What argument would this be? It’s about using the other two service manuals. It gets a bit complicated, but bear with me as we go through why the AFMAN has so little information and what to do about it.

We need to understand that all three drill and ceremonies manuals are lacking in certain aspects and using ones best judgment is recommended. Let’s look at the attempt to guide the reader of AFMAN 36-2203, Drill and Ceremonies, to the other manuals.

1.1. Scope.
1.1.1. This manual includes most Air Force needs in drill and ceremonies, but it does not cover every situation that may arise. For unusual situations, using good judgment and taking into account the purpose of the movement or procedure can often provide the solution. (emphasis mine)
1.1.2. Units or organizations required to drill under arms will use the procedures in US Army Field Manual 22-5, Drill and Ceremonies, SECNAV 5060.22 or Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual. The type of weapon used will determine the appropriate manual.

AFMAN 36-2203 June 2018

Let’s rewind and look at that last sentence “The type of weapon used will determine the appropriate manual.” No, it doesn’t. While it may have at one time*, just like the mention of FM 22-5 and SECNAV 5060.22 these statements were true.

*In my research, I have not seen that rifle types were all that different between the the Army and Marine Corps. Both have used the M1, M14, and M1903 (our rifles for ceremonial applications now) and both had the manuals for each rifle at one time or another in each D&C manual.

A Little History

Paragraph 1.1.2 in the quote above didn’t come about until the early 1990s and initially also contained a reference to the USAFA regulation but that was removed, and we currently have the above two paragraphs in the quote. Unfortunately, the idea behind this guidance was never spelled out completely and also not updated.

  • FM 22-5 has been TC 3-21.5 for years.
  • SECNAV 5060.22 was actually SECNAVINST 5060.22 and has been MCO 5060.20 for years.
  • The then Army Field Manual had the manual of arms for the M1/M14 (the M1 was removed from the M14 manual section in the 1986 edition) and M1903 (Springfield)/M1917 (Enfield) in the appendix section and still does as of this writing.
  • NAVMC 2691 (1980s) only had the manual for the M16 and then used the M14 for firing party without explaining the manual for that rifle. It’s very possible that SECNAVINST 5060.22 for the 1990s had the same thing. This is an educated guess since manuals from the 1990s are extremely difficult to obtain. However, the certain photos used in the NAVMC and first MCO are identical and that leads me to the conclusion that the SECNAVINST was a retitling/renumbering of the NVMC.
  • The first MCO for drill and ceremonies came out in 2003, P5060.20, and included the manual of arms for the M1 Garand and M14 in the appendix section.

That History Equals:

Rifle type really never mattered, it was the application of the rifle that required one or the other manual. That leaves the question of how do we apply the Army Training Circular and the Marine Corps Order to Air Force and now Space Force drill and ceremonies?

Before we get to the answer for that question, this has to be stated: Ceremonial Drill, the positions and movements that come from the USAF Honor Guard and used by Base Honor Guard units around the world, do not mix with Regulation Drill. Regulation Drill, the positions and movements that come from the TC, MCO, and AFMAN, is its own separate species.

Ceremonial Drill has its basis in Regulation Drill both historic and modern but goes well beyond the scope out of necessity. That necessity comes from, among other things, the requirement to stand for extraordinarily long periods of time, navigate physical structures both inside and out, and maintain the strictest standards of protocol.

Air Force and Space Force JROTC and Civil Air Patrol cadets have a great tendency to mix these two very distinct styles with reckless abandon while not understanding the separation and the reasoning behind it.

The Armed Flight

An armed flight (the AF version of a platoon) of Jr/Sr ROTC cadets uses TC 3-21.5 as the source for the weapon movement (transitions) while still using AF standards for Attention, Parade Rest, and Right/Left Shoulder because those positions are pictured in the AFMAN. Why use the TC? Because the AF came from the Army and all legacy AF D&C manuals, beginning with the first edition in 1953 have duplicated the Army standards until the manual of arms sections were removed. Plus, the Army is the senior service. We go to the senior service first and then the second service.

Note: Enlisted Airmen and Guardians qualify on firing the current service rifle in Basic Training and then on a recurring basis, but there is no requirement for armed Airmen to stand or march in an armed element, flight, or squadron formation. The vast majority of Airmen and now Guardians do not have anything to do with fighting on the ground. We have no need for knowledge of the manual of arms in general. Other than Base Honor Guard personnel, there are very few Air Force Specialties that do stand in formation while armed. An example would be 3PO, Security Forces, armed and in flight formation for shift change and they use the Army’s TC for the manual of arms and inspection of the weapon.

The Color Guard

The guards for an AF/SF color guard go to the outside shoulder ONLY when the team is at Carry*. This technique of the guards at the outside shoulder is only found in the MCO where it is called the outboard shoulder. This means we look to the colors section of the MCO and find the method for synchronizing movement to and from the outside/outboard shoulder.

Note: The office of primary responsibility for AFMAN 36-2203 made a very big mistake years ago with the grip on the flagstaff and has since doubled-down on keeping the mistake, unfortunately. Read AFMAN 36-2203 Problems? for a breakdown of the issue. But don’t let that kill your reliance on the photos since the rifle and hand positions have not changed for decades.

Yes, we do use the photos and text to create the complete picture of the requirements. If we weren’t supposed to use the photos, drawings, or graphics, why would they be there in the first place? See also, The AFMAN Right Face-in-Marching is Wrong.

A marching color guard, as opposed to presenting or posting the colors, can follow the AFMAN guidance with help from the MCO with ease. The procedures for military parades are fully explained and street parades are fairly straight forward.

The AF and SF JROTC Color Guard

In competition, the AFMAN must be strictly adhered to. This means, no tucking colors, no Strong Grip, no “Ready, Cut”, etc. By using your best judgment and logic, techniques can be easily developed while maintaining the ideas in the AFMAN and not venturing into the evils of “exhibition color guard”.

Exhibition color guard is a heinous, vulgar offshoot of color guard procedures by those with a lack of understanding of the nature of a color guard and why respect and honor are so necessary. Any “wild” idea outside of published standards (Flag Code and applicable manuals) is inappropriate. If one of your teammates says something like, “Hey, what if we did this…” that’s a sign of trouble.

Presenting and Posting the Colors

Here is where the AF/SF have nothing to reference in the AFMAN. But first…

A Little History, Part 2

Around the time the USAF became an independent branch of the US military, military police in each service were charged with the additional duties of flag detail and color guard. This is why the pistol was an optional weapon for the guards. MPs were relied upon to take care of these duties, especially for the Army and AF. Eventually, base honor guards were formed out of volunteers from each squadron on base beginning in the 1960s/70s and base law enforcement took a lesser role.

I joined the USAF in 1985 and in 1990 I joined my first ceremonial unit, the then 836th Air Division Honor Guard at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. When honor guard units were formed, the requirement for a color guard for all base functions now fell on the base’s team and was essentially removed from the duties of the unit First Sergeant, although the First Sergeant sent squadron personnel to the honor guard.

Every base team used a version of presenting and posting of the colors described in FM 22-5 and every base added a certain “flare”. This resulted in no two base honor guards being able to work together without extensive work to come to some agreement as to what to finally do. We also used the funeral standards in 22-5 with an “adjustment” here or there.

Why the adjustments and flare? For one reason, people like to stand out in a crowd and be the “best of the best (of the best)”. They get an idea of how to jazz up something that might send recognition their way. Another reason is we didn’t have complete information and we were making things up as we went to fill in those gaps.

Let’s face it, all three service manuals do not cover absolutely every single circumstance you may encounter (this is where Ceremonial Drill completely outshines Regulation Drill). Although, when it comes to color guard, the MCO has done the best job of the three (including Trail colors and the description of what we call Angle Port to get through doorways) and yet still lacks complete guidance.

With the advent of base honor guards, there was no longer a need to store the flags in the commanders office and formally acquire them as described in the AFMAN. That process virtually disappeared by the late 1970s. Just call the BHG to coordinate your ceremony and we are there.

In the mid-90s the then Chief of the USAF Honor Guard, CMSgt Timmothy Dickens, developed the concept of the Base Honor Guard (BHG) program and we now have, more or less, a cohesive ceremonial program world-wide that covers all requirements of each ceremonial element. An incredible feat, to say the least. In steps Ceremonial Drill to the mainstream without anyone realizing it.

What does all of this mean? Because Regulation Drill has limitations, especially where colors is concerned, and the fact that ceremonial procedures and techniques are easily accessible, hybridized methods have become the norm for cadets but shouldn’t be.

Back to Presenting and Posting the Colors

When in competition and you must present, post, and/or retrieve the colors using AFMAN 36-2203, you are limited, so where do we turn? Again, we look to the other two manuals and borrow procedures from each as necessary. Need to enter a low clearance room? Use Trail Arms from the MCO. Need to go through a doorway? Use Angle Port, again, from the MCO (it’s not called Angle Port, but that is the description). Have a head table with the stands behind? Use the procedures in the TC.

We in the AF and now the SF use the beginning and ending positions for the flag bearers and rifle guards required in the AFMAN. We then search out the best procedures for our specific situation all the while not using ceremonial positions of which Port (the staff at the right side and the left hand flared horizontally across the torso, pictured at right) is widely used. Also used is the T-L-Step to turn around.

Using ceremonial procedures in a Regulation Drill setting is just an easy panacea so that we don’t have to do any research and discover what is supposed to take place.

Why is this hybrid not appropriate? Here are the reasons.

  1. Because you are not trained. Air Force Honor Guard and Base Honor Guard members go through training before they can begin using the techniques in a formal setting. Civil Air Patrol has a cadet ceremonial training program that must be attended before cadets can use the techniques. Both are a process of certification.
  2. Ceremonial drill is only accomplished in the ceremonial uniform.
  3. Because the requirements of the competition come from AFMAN 36-2203 and associated regulations (AFI 34-1201, Protocol and AFPAM 34-1202, Protocol Handbook).

The competition is a measure of knowledge (the “What”) and performance (the “How”). Running to ceremonial standards shows a lack of awareness of the standards required. This is a systemic lack of awareness, not just an individual unit level, of the true requirements of the competition.

Conclusion

AFMAN 36-2203 needs better guidelines, and we need a better drill and ceremonies training that takes into account that cadets will be using it for competitions and Competitive Regulation Drill requires paying attention to the finest of details, just like Ceremonial Drill.

We have lost our history. When each school year begins, we teach anew and dismiss the previous years as not pertaining to what is happening now. The reverse is true. history grounds us and helps us maintain a direction.

Joint Service Colors

The Why of the Color Guard: Military Joint Service Order

DrillMaster DrillCenter News 8 Comments

So many Base Honor Guards, Civil Air Patrol, Sea Cadets, and JROTC units carry multiple service colors constantly in street parades to represent all, or most, of the services. While I understand this, it’s against color guard protocol. Here’s the information. See also this article, Joint Service Order of the Colors. For US first responders, see the article, American First Responder Joint Service Order.

FYI: any color guard associated with the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard CANNOT carry any flag other than the national ensign and the service departmental/organizational. This is fully explained here.

Full Joint Service Order*

  • Soldier – Right/Lead Rifle
  • Soldier – National Flag
  • Soldier – Army Departmental Flag (never the Army Field Flag**)
  • Marine – Marine Corps Departmental Flag
  • Sailor – Navy Departmental Flag
  • Airman – Air Force Departmental Flag
  • Guardian – Space Force Departmental Flag
  • Coast Guardsman – Coast Guard Departmental Flag
  • Marine – Left/Trail Rifle Guard

*No other flag is authorized in this formation. No other flag. Please understand this. A state flag, the POW/MIA flag, the Merchant Mariner flag, no other flag is authorized to be carried in this formation.

**The Army Field flag is only authorized to be carried by an Army-only color guard and never in conjunction with other services. The Army Field Flag was developed because the Army departmental flag was initially required to be carried with battle streamers. The units that could not afford the flag and streamers were authorized to carry the Field Flag. Senior ROTC units are among those authorized to carry the Field Flag. The departmental is authorized to be carried with or without streamers.

Partial Joint Service Order

Any mix of the above colors requires the following.

  • Senior service present – Right/Lead Rifle
  • Senior service present – National Flag
  • Senior service present – Service Departmental Flag
  • Second senior service present- Service Departmental Flag
  • Third service, etc.
  • Second senior service present – Left/Trail Rifle Guard

National Guard Joint Service

While the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard can both carry their authorized flags when forming a single-service color guard, including the state, it would seem proper to include the state flag as well for joint service National Guard units since they serve the governor of that state. There is no specific guidance to add the state flag except what is referenced in this article. The regulations would indicate the state flag is not allowed, however this is a similar tier of service at the state level as the national level and inclusion of the state flag does seem proper. Here is an example.

  • Soldier – Right/Lead Rifle
  • Soldier – National Flag
  • Airman – State Flag
  • Soldier – Army National Guard Flag
  • Airman – Air National Guard Flag
  • Airman – Left/Trail Rifle Guard

Reserve, Auxiliary, and Cadets

These units must follow the guidelines set forth for the Active Duty.

Directives, Regulations, Orders, and Instructions

Cutting to the chase: service colors are carried by a member of that service, not anyone else. Now, to back that up, keep reading.

4-2. Precedence of Soldiers at parades and reviews, “d. In parades and in ceremonies on shore in which several Services are participating, precedence should be according to subparagraph e, below, without regard to the relative grades of the commanding officers of the detachments. A member of the senior Service present will bear the national colors, and the organizational colors of the Services represented will be carried in order of seniority from right to left as viewed from the rear.”

AR 600-25, Salutes, Honors, and Courtesies

Composition of the Color Guard, “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 [full] color guard will be a Soldier. The respective service colors are aligned to the left of the national colors.”

MCO 5060.20, Drill and Ceremonies

2.11. Order of Precedence of Flags. “2.11.7.20. In Joint Service Color Teams, the Army carries the United States Flag and commands the color team as the senior Service. The rifle guard nearest the United States Flag is Army and the rifle guard farthest from the United States Flag will be a Marine.”

AFI 34-1201, Protocol

E8.5. COLOR GUARDS
E8.5.1. In public programs for which DoD support has been authorized and at which the display of the U.S. flag and the flags of the Military Services is applicable, a Joint Armed Forces Color Guard shall be employed, when available, using the following composition:
E8.5.1.1. Two Army bearers with the U.S. flag and Army flag.
E8.5.1.2. One each Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard bearer with individual Military Service flags.
E8.5.1.3. One Army and one Marine Corps rifleman, as escorts.
E8.5.2. When a Joint Armed Forces Color Guard, as specified in paragraph E8.5.1., above, cannot be formed, the senior member of the senior Military Service in the color guard shall carry the U.S. flag. The DoD Components shall be guided by DoD Directive 1005.8 (reference (t)).
E8.5.3. U.S. military personnel may carry the official national flag of foreign nations participating in official civil ceremonies, defined as a “public event,” that are funded, sponsored, and conducted by the U.S. Federal Government or a State, county, or municipal government, when an official of the nation concerned is present in an official capacity to receive such honors, and the official is one for whom honors normally are rendered. In all other public programs or ceremonies, U.S. military personnel in uniform and in an official capacity are not authorized to carry flags of foreign nations, veterans groups, or other non-military organizations.

DoDI 5410.19

The order of precedence in a parade of military and naval forces is:

  • Cadets, United States Military Academy
  • Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy
  • Cadets, United States Coast Guard
  • Regular Army
  • United States Marines
  • United States Navy
  • United States Coast Guard
  • National Guard organizations that have been federally recognized
  • Marine Corps Reserve
  • Naval Reserve
  • Other organizations of the Organized Reserves, National Guard, Naval Militia, Reserve Officers Training Corps, and other training units in the order prescribed by the grand marshal of the parade
    Veterans and patriotic organizations in the order prescribed by the grand marshal of the parade

A joint-service color guard also reflects this order of precedence.

Although the Navy’s birthday is 13 October 1775, a loss of appropriations in 1785 temporarily ended the service’s existence until it was reestablished with the Naval Act of 1794. Because of this timeline lapse, the U.S. Marine Corps’ birthday on 10 November 1775 gives the Marines precedence in parades and joint-service color guards.

General Order 47

Why are Cadet and Midshipmen First?

Because General Order 47 says so. Other than that, I do not know and cannot find any more information on it. All I know is that this order of precedence applies to formations of military men and women and and flags that are carried and displayed.

Manning

These excerpts tell us that several positions are manned specifically and not just by anyone in any position, but nothing tells us outright that an Airman must carry the USAF flag or a Sailor must carry the Navy flag. It seems that, as long as the flags are in the correct order, everything is OK. However, while understandable, that just doesn’t make complete sense. Why would only three positions be required to be manned specifically and the other positions not matter who mans them?

Knowing all this, it is incumbent on us to plan to fill each position for a color guard using the correct personnel for each position. What if we are unable to find a Space Force Guardian (for example)? Then, the SF flag should not be carried. Again, I do understand why units of one service carry all the departmental flags, but, according to the regulations, it’s not appropriate.

Research

DeVaughn Simper, Vexillologist for Colonial Flag, www.colonialflag.com, was a great help in providing guidance for this article.

DoD Dir 1005.8, Order of Precedence of US Armed Forces (1977) [due to the creation of Space Force this will need to be updated very soon, should have been already]; Memorandum to DoD Dir 1005.8 (15 July 2016); DoDI 5410.19 Public Affairs Community Relations Policy (2001); AFI 34-1201, Protocol (2020) [the writers got the arrangement of the Space Force wrong in this edition, SF is immediately to the left of AF], and finally, General Order No. 47 established the Precedence of Forces in Parades on 13 May 1935.

Marine Corps Color Guard Two National Flags Parade Order

Displaying vs. Carrying Flags

DrillMaster DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

Clarification

We need clarification and constant reminders of standards of what many think they remember and what actually exists in reality. This is not an insult directed at anyone. There are thousands of well-meaning Americans who remember what they were taught in school or during their time in the military and those memories fade, just like every other aspect of teaching. We need a refresher. This article is a refresher and also addresses some information that may not be readily accessible.

There is a difference between carrying and displaying flags. A display of flags is already in a set of stands either for daily display or for an event/ceremony and not carried by a color guard.

Any flags carried first with the intention of posting them in stands for an event/ceremony must conform to the requirements of a color guard. Just because flags will eventually be posted does not mean the color guard can ignore these standards.

Tribal Flags

There is no documentation on the order of precedence for tribal flags. I find this unfortunate. The advice DeVaughn was given was to place the tribal flags after the territories because tribes do not have representation in Congress and are under the Department of the Interior.

When on tribal soil, the appropriate tribal flag would go to the marching left of the US (where the state should be).

For multiple tribal flags, alphabetical order is best as it eliminates a very contentious subject of establishment date.

All of this is reasoned opinion and not solid protocol.

Fringe on Flags

It’s best to avoid fringe on foreign national flags. Some foreign flags have a certain color and length of fringe, but international flag protocol settles the matter at leaving fringe off. Here is an example below.

Arrival Ceremony at the Pentagon

You can see in the image above that both national flags do not have fringe even though the Army requires fringe on all flags carried by soldiers.

Color Guard: Foreign National, State, US Territory, and Tribal Flags

I need to emphasize this now: A color guard does not march with the American flag higher. Color guard flags are always carried at the same level unless the bearer height or waist levels are so different that the American flag must be carried higher, but it is then carried MINIMALLY higher.

Flags must be as close to the same dimensions as possible and flagstaffs must be the same length.

Foreign national, American Indian tribal, and US territory flags are considered foreign national flags when it comes to flag protocol. This is not about legal issues, that’s much too confusing and contentious. We are strictly addressing flag protocol.

Army, Air Force, and Space Force

If your color guard is Army, Air Force, or Space Force, the the foreign national, state, US territory, or tribal flag is carried directly next to the American flag on its left. If there is one of each that is the order for carrying.

Army, Air Force, and Space Force color guards can carry up to five flags with one having to be the departmental/organizational. For more about the Army color guard, read this article. For more on about the Air Force and Space Force color guard, read this article.

Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard

The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard form a separate three-man color guard for the foreign national, tribal*, or US territory flag with two guards. If more than one flag in this category, then another three-man color guard is formed.

*As for the tribal flag, there is no guiding documentation as to how the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard it represents a nation and the recommendation is to treat the flag just like a foreign national or US territory flag.

State flags cannot be carried at all. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard can only carry the national ensign and the departmental/organizational flags in the main color guard. For more, read this article.

Two National Flags on Separate Teams

The image above shows both teams standing together on US soil (Marine Barracks Washington) with the foreign national flag’s team to the left of the main team in line formation with approximately two steps in between. The team of three takes all commands from the color guard proper (main team). The main image at the top of this article shows these two teams in parade order with the main team in front and the second team centered behind at approximately six steps.

Display: Foreign National, State, US Territory, and Tribal Flags

Standard flag display

A flag display follows established protocol, whether national or international. For this display, all flags are as close to the same dimensions as possible and all flagstaffs (indoors) or flagpoles (outdoors) are the same length/height.

Foreign National-Specific

  • A foreign national flag is never displayed to the right of the American flag when on US soil.
  • A foreign national flag is never displayed lower than the American flag.
    • The American flag can be displayed at half-staff/mast while the foreign national flag is flown at full truck (all the way to the top). Some countries consider half-staff/mast to be insulting to their flag.
  • A foreign national flag is never displayed under the American flag.

Precedence

  1. The American flag is displayed to its’ right (viewer’s left).
  2. Any foreign national flag is next and if more than one will be displayed (not counting the US) they are displayed in alphabetical order in the English.
  3. Next comes any state flag and if more than one, the flags are arranged in order of acceptance into the union, not alphabetical.
  4. A US Territory flag is next and if more than one, they are arranged by territory establishment date.
  5. A tribal flag would be next and if more than one, the flags are arranged in alphabetical order.

American Flag Higher

It’s a myth that the American flag must always be higher. There is one display where having the American flag higher is a must.

I need to reemphasize this: A color guard does not march with the American flag higher. Color guard flags are carried at the same level unless the bearer height or waist level is so different that the American flag must be carried higher, but it is then carried MINIMALLY higher.

The only time the American flag is displayed higher is when it is in the middle of the display. The flags it is displayed with radiate out from it starting on the right.

American flag higher and center with radiating flags

The graphic above is ONLY for a static display indoors or outdoors. A color guard does not carry or post colors like this. These displays are always informally setup before a ceremony or for daily viewing.

Outdoors

Just because you may want or think that the American flag should be higher, doesn’t mean you force it. All flags are raised to full truck and when all of your flagpoles are the same height, that means the American is raised at the far right, viewer’s left. For more on outside displays, read this article.

Creating this Article

I collaborated on the fine details of this article with DeVaughn Simper, Vexillologist for Colonial Flag. The only flag manufacturer that I recommend with a very knowledgeable staff. Consultations were also with the Institute of Heraldry and the State Department Protocol Office.

Besides the consultations mentioned above, the following were part of the research. The Flag Code, TC 3-21.5, AR 840-10, MCO 5060.20, MCO 10520.3, AFMAN 36-2203, AFI 34-1201, and AFPAM 34-1202.

The Firing Party Timing

DrillMaster Commentary, Honor Guard, Instructional Leave a Comment

Forensic Experts Galore

What you hear and what you see can be two different things. A firing party fires so quickly that it can be impossible to hear that a single shot fired by all seven team members is not at exactly the same split second.

We hear perfection, but a photo or still from a video can show a very, very minute imperfection. However, just because all seven did not fire at exactly the same instant does not mean we do not hear what is called a “Boomer”, all seven sounding like one booming shot.

Just because you don’t see a plume of smoke or fire emanating from every single barrel doesn’t mean the team sounded like popcorn popping. OK, you have fired before and know the concepts behind it, that doesn’t mean you are a forensic expert.

In the photo at top, you can see the historic reenactment of firing black powder rifles. Notice the slightly different plumes of smoke and fire. Even with this variation in the photo, it’s quite possible they sounded like one shot. Same with these images below.

May 1919: Firing party at a memorial day for American and British soldiers buried at the war cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey.
Kelly Dragus, wife Jonathan Dragus–the last Oklahoma City police officer killed in the line of duty–fires her pistol with other members of the honor guard as fallen officers are remembered at a memorial in front of Oklahoma City Police Headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Friday, May 9, 2008. BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN