A History of Drill and Training Rifles (Links)

DrillMasterHistory Leave a Comment

Here are the links to the 26 parts of this very detailed paper written by Malcolm MacPherson. I split his paper into 26 articles in 2012. The information is very interesting and you can see that we still use some versions. Mr. MacPherson’s paper goes over US, British, and Japanese training rifles.

Part 1, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles

Part 2, Early Drill Rifles

Part 3, The Frances Bannerman History

Part 4, The Boys Brigade (Dummy Rifles)

Part 5, The United States Training Rifle Company

Part 6, The Parris-Dunn Training Rifle

Part 7, The Parris-Dunn Variant

Part 8, Parris-Dunn Civilian Training Rifles

Part 9, Parris Manufacturing Company Toy Drill Rifles

Part 10, Rubber Bayonets and Kadets of America

Part 11, Daisy Sport Trainer

Part 12, The Parris Mfg. Co. “HAUBERT, H.”, US Navy, and Detroit Composition Co. Training Rifles

Part 13, The Indiana Quartered Oak Military Drill Rifle

Part 14, IN-VU Wood Rifles

Part 15, Carson Long Military Institute

Part 16, The Requarth Gun

Part 17, Unidentified Drill Rifles

Part 18, Steyr M. 95 Drill Rifle

Part 19, Bayonet Fencing Rifles and the M14 Training Rifle

Part 20, Swift Training Rifles

Part 21, The Long Branch Training Rifle

Part 22, British Training Rifles

Part 23, The US Portable Building Corporation

Part 24, Japanese Training Rifles

Part 25, Current Production

Part 26, Current Production, Cont.

The North Andover, MA Debacle

DrillMasterDrillCenter News, Protocol and Flag Leave a Comment

People’s Stupid Actions

Absent-minded actions are leading to unnecessary anger and hostility. Nice job. If you had pulled your heads out of your virtue signaling backsides for a minute and actually read the Flag Code, you would have seen, in black and white, wording that explains national flags are flown from separate poles only! To place one national flag over another is a clear sign of aggression.

North Andover, MA flew the Israeli and Palestinian flags beneath not only the US, but the POW. What an absolute disgrace that could have been easily avoided. I cannot judge if the people involved are stupid, that’s not my place. I can, however, tell everyone that these idiotic ACTIONS, meant to please everyone, are immediately failing and you should all be fired. You’ve put your community in danger.

Further, you quickly tried to backpedal and hurriedly signed a ban on all non-government flags and now you cannot fly the Purple Heart flag that you have flown in years passed. You screwed up three times in royal fashion.

Let’s Review

  1. The purple heart flag has not yet been federally recognized. The original intent for this design was to represent members of the military order of the Purple Heart Veterans Organization – putting it in a similar status as the POW/MIA flag- a private organization flag. Any changes to the flag code are vicious, obnoxious battles that result in the proposals never making it out of committee. Which is why the last update to the US flag was done by Executive Order. The core aspects of the Flag Code haven’t changed since it was adopted in the 1940’s and does not account for changes in manufacturing processes, materials, or social changes.
  2. We have a situation here of mixing the Civilian Laws, Military Regulations, and International agreements.
  3. The city of North Andover created their own debacle by violating the Flag Code.
    a. Nothing in any state or federal law authorizes municipalities to arbitrarily fly a foreign flag. The state department’s guidelines state that foreign flags should only be used when officials from that country are participating in a formal event.
    b. Foreign flags NEVER fly on the same flag pole as the US flag- EVER! The Flag Code clearly states all national flags are flown from separate poles and halyards.
    c. When a foreign flag is displayed with the US flag- the POW flag should be removed from the US flag pole as we have switched from Civilian law (Title 4 USC) to UN Flag protocol

Written with DeVaughn Simper, resident Vexillologist, Colonial Flag

The Chinese Official State Visit

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team 6 Comments

I received numerous questions about the leader of communist China visiting the US and having Presidential Honor Guard members holding the Chinese flag and other honors rendered. Let’s get into the information about arrival ceremonies.

DoDI5410.19 Vol 4, Community Outreach Activities: Ceremonial, Musical, and Aerial Event Support; AR 600-60, Army Protocol; and AR 840-10, the Army’s flag manual, apply to arrival and other ceremonies where a foreign national flag might be displayed or carried.

Note: All three of the photos in this article are similar to the main photo at the top. A color guard of three make up a team that holds the flag of the visiting foreign dignitary. That dignitary can be a civilian in the government or a member of the military. The photo at the top shows a Soldier of the 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) of Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall, holding the Chinese flag while on his right is another Soldier holding the US. Both are in three-man color guards.

US Colors Guard Carrying Canadian Colors for Official Visit

Legal to Hold a Foreign Flag?

Our members of the military hold foreign national flags for every visit of a foreign national government official who rates honors (DoDI 5410.19 Vol. 4). The visits can be grandiose (full honors, joint or single-service) and out on the White House lawn or relatively small and held at the river entrance of the Pentagon or even inside Marine Barracks Washington.

US Colors Guard Carrying Australian Colors for Official Visit

Honors Appropriate?

We are technically not at war with the visiting foreign leader or POTUS would not be receiving him. That the requires a salute/honors rendered for the appropriate times.

FYI, the only communist country the USA is at war with is North Korea since the Korean War ended with a cease fire and is still officially active. Therefore, they don’t warrant an official state visit and the North Korean Flag would not be present.

US Colors Guard Carrying Italian Colors for Official Visit

Written with DeVaughn Simper, resident Vexillologist for Colonial Flag

This is Illegal in the US – Treason

DrillMasterInstructional, Protocol and Flag 2 Comments

UPDATE: This photo is NOT contrived. Fremont High School in California DID raise the flag of Palestine. I cannot find any corroborating reports for this image. But, let’s get the correct info concerning something like this.

OAKLAND, Calif. – Controversy around the conflict between Israel and Hamas persists in the Bay Area. On Tuesday, an Oakland high school faced criticism after a Palestinian flag was flown above the school.

Freelance reporter Zach Haber first posted a photo of a Palestinian flag flying over Fremont High School. It is unclear who raised the flag and how long it had been up, but many Palestinians consider this flag a symbol of their identity and freedom.  


Public schools in the US are required to fly the American flag.

Flag Code

Ҥ6. (g) Time and occasions for display

The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse. (“Should” has a legal definition here of desirable, not mandatory. -DM)

§7. Position and manner of display

(c) [Applicable excerpt] No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.

(g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

State Requirements

The requirement for public schools (private schools do not have this requirement) in the United States to display the U.S. flag is governed by federal and state laws which are “supposed” to add clarity to information in Title 4 USC (Flag Code). In California specifically- 1. California Government Code § 430-434: These sections of the California Code mandate the display of the U.S. flag and the California State flag in various public places, including educational institutions.

Every state has similar laws. So even if the administration wanted to fly a foreign flag in front of the school, they are prohibited by state and federal law. The school is a government entity and is not subject to the 1st amendment.


Raising a foreign national flag in place of or without a US flag on the next pole is tantamount to treason. It’s a symbol of surrender.

Written with DeVaughn Simper, resident Vexillologist for Colonial Flag

Difference Between Official Military Department Flags and Novelty Military Flags

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

This article will help you understanding the difference between official military departmental flags and novelty military flags.

Flags have always played a significant role in the military. They serve as symbols of unity, identity, and honor, representing the values and traditions of a nation’s armed forces. While the official military department flags are well-recognized and carry historical significance, novelty military flags that veterans fly to show their pride in their service have gained popularity in recent years as a means of celebrating military service and identity. When planning events, displays, or even purchasing color guard equipment, it is critical to understand the differences between official military department flags and novelty military/service pride flags, shedding light on their respective roles and significance.

Official Military Department Flags

Official military department flags are the authorized flags representing various branches of a nation’s armed forces. These flags hold a solemn and historical significance and are used in official ceremonies, parades, and other formal military events. The key characteristics of these flags include:

  1. Design Consistency: Official military department flags adhere to strict design and color standards, ensuring uniformity and respect for tradition. For instance, the United States military branches (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard) have distinct, standardized flags with specific emblems and colors that come in very specific sizes.
  2. Historic Significance: These flags have a rich history and often trace their origins back to the founding of the armed forces or their predecessor organizations. They are deeply rooted in tradition and carry the weight of their service’s history and sacrifices.
  3. Solemn Use: Official military department flags are reserved for formal and solemn occasions such as military funerals, retirement ceremonies, and official parades. They symbolize the seriousness and honor associated with military service.
  4. Government Authorization: The design and use of these flags is governed by regulations and laws. Unauthorized use or modification of these flags is generally prohibited. The DOD and each department have established clear regulations which describe the proper proportions, design elements, sizes, and usage.

The “real”, authorized flags of the US military. The Space Force flag is the only one different here to show you what an Indoor/Outdoor flag looks like. It has a staff sleeve and fringe. All service flags must have fringe that is gold in color, but the SF is the only one that requires fringe that is silver in color (more grey than true silver).

Novelty Military Flags

Novelty military pride flags, on the other hand, have gained popularity in recent years, serving as a more personal expressive form of honoring military service and identity. These flags are characterized by:

  1. Diverse Designs: Novelty military flags come in a wide variety of designs, often incorporating personal or unit-specific elements, such as custom insignia, slogans, or other symbols.
  2. Personal Expression: These flags are created to allow individuals to express their pride, support, or affiliation with the military. They can be customized to include the names of specific units, military branches, or personal messages.
  3. Inclusivity: They are often used by military families, veterans, and supporters of the armed forces. They promote recognition of the sacrifices made by military personnel.
  4. Non-Official: Unlike official military department flags, novelty military pride flags are not authorized by the government or military branches. They are not used in formal ceremonies and are not subject to the same strict regulations.

These flags contain logos, more or less. The Navy flag might look like the authorized version, but it’s dimensions are off. This USAF flag contains the AF Emblem.

None of these flags are authorized to be carried by military personnel.


Official military department flags and novelty military pride flags serve distinct purposes and have different roles within the realm of military symbolism. The official flags represent the traditions and history of the armed forces, carrying a solemn and regulated significance. In contrast, novelty military pride flags provide a personal means of expression, enabling individuals to celebrate their connection to the military in a more customized and inclusive manner.

It is important to recognize the differences between these two types of flags to avoid any misunderstanding or misuse of official military symbols. While both types of flags have their place, it is essential to respect the traditions associated with official military department flags and to use novelty military pride flags as a means of personal expression and support for the military community.

This article was written by DeVaughn Simper, Vexillologist. Find him on social media: @professorflagg.

The Colors Presentation That Never Happened

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team Leave a Comment

It happened, but it didn’t.

Mrs. DrillMaster and I were stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base from 2009-2011. Her last base before retiring while I was already retired for three years. I joined the Base Honor Guard as an AP3 member and became the trainer for a while. During my tenure there, we fielded one of many color guards, this one for a change of command ceremony in a hangar on the flightline.

The Story

The team formed up as we usually did at the side of the bleachers in Line Formation about ten minutes prior to the start. They went to Stand At Ease and waited. The announcer stated the usual, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the presentation of the colors and the singing of the national anthem by Miss (whoever she was).” The team came to Attention, Right Shoulder, and just as they stepped of, the woman began singing the Star-Spangled Banner. Our colors team stopped in it’s tracks and went to Present while still in Line Formation. They went back to Right Shoulder and just as they began marching forward to formally present the colors, the announcer went on with the program. The commander of the team told the lead guard to circle back around.

The team went down to Angle Port, went through a doorway to their prep area, put the equipment up, changed back into the travel uniform, went to transportation, loaded up, and headed back to the Shack having never actually being given the opportunity to do their job in front of the audience. They did do their job, just not as expected.

The Protocol Office received a request for a discussion. No one was at fault, per se, it was just nerves and lack of communication all round.

Don’t let this happen to you and your team. Show up early and rehearse (my team did, but this still happened) and make sure all key players are there for the rehearsal.

Maybe one day…

I’ll tell you about the other colors presentation that didn’t happen on the command of “Post the Colors!” that was repeated a second time when an NCO forgot to get the color guard equipment at the Shack and meet the rest of the team at the hangar on the flightline for the Wing change of command. Yes, the Wing (Battalion equivalent).

Or maybe the one about how the organizational flag slid down the staff while the team was at Right Shoulder and advancing to present the colors. I was horrified as I watched from the behind the audience. The next day, I went to the Shack with my drill and several small screws and secured all the flags, top and bottom with both new Velcro tabs and the screws. It never happened again. You can read how I did that here.

Recommended Equipment for a Color Guard

DrillMasterDrillMaster Recommends, Review 1 Comment

I received such a great question that it spurred me into creating a new tag #DrillMasterRecommends, and writing this article. Thank you, Jari Villanueva, The Taps Bugler!

Question: I’m looking at updating our organization’s flags. Our new Honor Guard would like to purchase an American flag a state flag, poles for each and bases. What do you recommend?

For a non-military color team, you could use just about any combination of flagstaffs, ornaments and colors. However, non-military honor guard units are still military-type units and should follow either the Army or Marine Corps drill and ceremonies manual, Training Circular (TC) 3-21.5, Marine Corps Order 5060.2, both available in the Resources section of this website, or The Honor Guard Manual.

As far as colors go, nothing has changes from manual to manual. However, I encourage first responder honor guard units to follow the United States Certified Ceremonial Guardsman guidance set forth in my book, The Honor Guard Manual, the only complete guide for honor guards available.

See also: All About the Color Guard and Color Guard Flag Protocol.

So, here is what I recommend:

Ceremonial Fire Axe

Plano America has the perfect replicas for ceremonial use.

Fire Axe, Inc. also offers unbelievably awesome fire axes that can be personalized.


I suggest 4 or 6 from Glendale Parade Store. Either the black or chrome DrillAmerica M1903 Replica and here is why: Which Drill Rifle is Better? Or, the chrome DrillAmerica M1 Garand replica.

Flagstaff and Colors

Army, AF, and SF

Ceremonial colors are 4′ 4″ x 5.5′ on 9′ 6″ light ash 2-piece guidon flagstaffs with the silver Army Spearhead (Spade) finial. Go to www.colonialflag.com for flags and colors. Army/AF/SF need to special order 3’x4′ flags. It’s not more expensive, it’s just not a size anyone else uses, but is mandatory for these three services.

Go to www.glendale.com for staffs. If you order from another company, you don’t know what you’ll get (thin threads, one screw on the screw joint, etc.). Go with Glendale.

  • Army can mount 3’x4′ colors on the 9’6″ staff.
  • AF/SF can use one-piece staffs (not recommended since they warp easily).
  • Flagstaffs other than guidon staffs are not authorized in the military and that goes for JROTC as well.
  • First responders can use 3’x5′ or 4’x6′ flags (military cannot). All colors must be the same size in a display or formation.

When working in smaller areas (crowded ballroom, for instance) or if you are going to post the colors, 3’x4′ colors on 8′ flagstaffs is recommended. For complete information, please read All About the Flagstaff then Flagstaff Ornaments, All About Flag Sizes and whether or not your colors should have fringe. Finally, read How to Properly Mount a Flag on a Flagstaff.

MC, Navy, and CG

Ceremonial colors are 4′ 4″ x 5.5′ on 9′ 6″ light ash 2-piece guidon flagstaffs with the silver Spade finial. Colors that are 3’x4′ are not authorized (except personal/positional colors).


Army/AF/SF requires fringe on all flags. The MC/Navy/CG requires fringe on all flags except the national. The Navy does not put fringe on the infantry battalion color.

  • First responders can have fringe on all or none. Your choice.

Color Bearer Harness

(I suggest parade and practice equipment) The most professional harness, what I’ve used for years and what the presidential service honor guard color teams use, is the black clarino (high gloss) or white leather harness with either chrome or gold-colored hardware just looks superior. Match the hardware color with the uniform accents and the hardware on the flagstaffs for a complete look.


(I suggest at least 2) My first choice is the Military Floor Stand. This is the required stand for the USAF/SF by AFI 34-1201 and all other services use this stand for ceremonies in DC. Years ago I worked with Wendy Lazar, the founder and previous owner of Glendale Industries (www.paradestore.com), and this stand is now offered without the extra hardware which holds 2 more flags.

My second choice would be the cast iron Admiral/Liberty Floor Stand which comes with a small plastic sleeve to support a guidon flagstaff’s ferrule or you could also use these Floor Stand Adapters (a tube that is inserted into the floor stand) and even use carrying cases. These are a much less expensive option,


Flagstaff covers the military uses are Canvas Covers. However, the canvas is relatively lightweight and can easily wear or get a hole in it from a misplaced Army Spear. The nylon cover is more durable or you could use the airline carrying case for each of your flagstaffs.

JROTC color teams do perform these tasks as part of a competition. The nylon cover is not authorized for competition. Colors are uncased before a ceremony 99% of the time.

Yeah, but he just dances…

DrillMasterDrill Teams, En Espanol, Instructional Leave a Comment

Versión en español a continuación.

You want to get ideas to improve your foot work and/or movement in general? Watch Michael Jackson videos. Really. His ability to create movement of his hands, arms, shoulders, head, torso, legs and feet are unparalleled. Get familiar with martial arts movements, different types of dance, other Drillers and exercise and stretch daily.

What the judge SHOULD be looking for:

The “What” of the performance

The range of material most compatible with the Drillers’ training, the vocabulary.

  • Creativity
  • Professionalism)
  • Horizontal and Vertical Uniformity of Technique
  • Exposure to error: Difficulty and Risk
  • Accuracy
  • Range and variety of moves
  • Phrasing (the length of
  • Horizontal (over time) and vertical (move-to-move) flow

The “How” of the performance

Evidence of training that supports the vocabulary.

  • Control
  • Achievement of dynamic variations and effort qualities
  • Timing and Pacing
  • Precision
  • Alignment
  • Spacing
  • Consistency
  • Recovery

With the above and your imagination, your choreographed and programed movement will excel!

Training and practice are two different things. If one is trained incorrectly, all of the practice in the world will not correct that.

Sí, pero él sólo baila…

Versión en Español

¿Quieres obtener ideas para mejorar tu trabajo de pies y/o movimiento en general? Mira vídeos de Michael Jackson. En realidad. Su capacidad para crear movimientos en sus manos, brazos, hombros, cabeza, torso, piernas y pies es incomparable. Familiarízate con los movimientos de las artes marciales, diferentes tipos de baile, otros Drillers y haz ejercicio y estiramientos diariamente.

Lo que el juez DEBE estar buscando:

El “qué” de la actuación

La gama de material más compatible con la formación de los Drillers, el vocabulario.

  • Creatividad
  • Profesionalismo)
  • Uniformidad horizontal y vertical de la técnica.
  • Exposición al error: dificultad y riesgo
  • Exactitud
  • Rango y variedad de movimientos.
  • Fraseo (la duración de
  • Flujo horizontal (a lo largo del tiempo) y vertical (de movimiento a movimiento)

El “Cómo” de la actuación

  • Control
  • Logro de variaciones dinámicas y cualidades de esfuerzo.
  • Sincronización y ritmo
  • Precisión
  • Alineación
  • Espaciado
  • Consistencia
  • Recuperación

¡Con lo anterior y tu imaginación, tu movimiento coreografiado y programado sobresaldrá!

El entrenamiento y la práctica son dos cosas diferentes. Si uno está entrenado incorrectamente, ni toda la práctica del mundo podrá corregirlo.

Three-Man Color Team for former President Ronald Reagan

Civil Air Patrol, Naval Sea Cadet Corps, or Coast Guard Auxiliary Member Funeral

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard Leave a Comment

I received a message a short time ago regarding cadets taking part in the funeral of a civilian adult who was a member of Civil Air Patrol. This applies not only to CAP but also NSCC, and CGA (CGA has some interaction with the Sea Scout program).

Military Funeral Honors

Public Law 106-65 amended Title 10 U.S. Code § 1491 – Funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans.

Military Funeral Honors (MFH) consists of two or more Active Duty, Reserve, and/or National Guard members of the US military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and/or Coast Guard) performing any or all of the following ceremonial elements at a memorial or funeral for a veteran of the US military: pallbearers; flag fold and presentation; colors guard; firing party volleys; and sounding Taps.

The only time the Military can participate formally in a civilian funeral service, is if the decedent was an elected official. There is some ambiguity as to whether local government leaders such as Mayors, City or County/Parish Councilmembers, or County Commissioners should be included, but Governors, members of the State Legislature, State Supreme Court members, members of US House and Senate, Supreme Court Justices, and current and former Presidents and Vice Presidents are authorized MFH. Also included in this list is Ambassadors, and the Secretary of State. But it is unclear as to whether other members of the Cabinet are entitled to this honor. It is assumed that the secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Army, Navy and Air Force are authorized if death occurs in office, but again there is no clear direction.

Funeral Honors

This is the same as MFH, right? No. The same ceremonial elements might be presented, but no one from the military is involved. this means pallbearers; flag fold and presentation; Color guard; firing party volleys; and the sounding Taps is not forbidden, they are performed by first responders or others.

The Casket and the Flag

Every American is authorized to have a flag drape their casket. Who carries the casket and who folds the flag are the questions that need answers. Here are the answers:

  1. Members of the US military can informally carry the casket of any American.
    • An example of this would be a Soldier who wears his uniform in honor of and carries the casket for a family member who was a veteran or not a veteran.
  2. Members of the US military cannot formally carry the casket of any American civilian. This is tantamount to MFH.
    • An example of this would be an American who never served- a civilian.
    • Another example is an American who never served in the US military but volunteered with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, or Naval Sea Cadet Corps- still a civilian.
  3. Members of the US military only fold the American flag and only for veterans.
  4. ROTC cadets and midshipmen, once under contract, are authorized MFH.
  5. US Military, US Naval, and US Air Force Academy cadets and midshipmen are authorized MFH.
  6. JROTC, Sea Cadets, CAP cadets

Avoidance of US government endorsement is the guiding principle.

What is Authorized?


Cadets of each organization can form a color guard for the deceased. CAP, NSCC, and CGA cadets can form color guards for any occasion. Adults in these programs should not, although CAP authorizes an adult member to step in as a last result.

The color guard can present (and post) the colors for a memorial inside a chapel. The team can then retrieve the colors and stand at graveside for that ceremony. If the flag will be presented to the family inside the chapel, don’t retire the colors as that is a final act, the flag presentation needs to be highlighted and last.

Casket Carry

There is no problem with cadets carrying a casket and folding the American flag.

Every American can have a small-star interment flag drape their casket.

Cremated remains? That means you pre-fold the flag and carry it and the urn (to the left of or behind the flag) to the graveside. You don’t have to unfold and refold the flag to present it, but you can. The flag must be folded before the service. The option is unfolding and refolding.

Firing Party

The first part of honors.

Most likely the cadets could borrow rifles for firing the three volleys from a veteran’s group.

Sounding Taps

The second part of honors.

When Taps is sounded, everyone stands at Attention. It is never sounded with anything else going on, everything stops. A cadet can use an electronic bugle or play his/her own horn.

Flag Fold and Presentation

This is the final part of honors.

There is nothing wrong with CAP cadet folding the flag and presenting it to the family.

The Three Flag “Codes”

DrillMasterProtocol and Flag Leave a Comment

Did you know that there are, essentially, three codes for flag protocol that we follow? Let’s take a look.

The Beginning

In 1777, Congress described the flag of the United States and declared that it shall be 13 stripes alternating red and white, with 13 stars on a field of blue. With the passage of this law the flag was established. However, it was controlled largely by the War Department (later the Department of Defense, DoD), since flags were used primarily by the military.

The Military “Code”

Each branch developed their own regulations and protocols that addressed their unique needs.

Members of the United States Uniformed Services are required to follow the regulations for their respective branch and guidance at the DoD level. The regulations are not a buffet from which you can pick and choose which standards you follow. Each branch must stay within their published regulations with very few exceptions. One exception is Joint Military and Joint Armed Forces color guard formations.

Read about these standards in

  • Army Training Circular 3-21.5
  • Army Regulation 840-10
  • Army Regulation 600-60
  • Marine Corps Order, 5060.20
  • Marine Corps Order 4400.201 Vol 13
  • OPNAVINST 10520.1B
  • OPNAVINST 1710.7a (contains info from US Navy Regulations Chap 12)
  • NTP 13(B)
  • Air Force Pamphlet 34-2203
  • Air Force Manual 34-1201
  • Air Force Pamphlet 34-1202

You can download all of them for free under Military Manuals on the Resources page.

The Civilian Code

When it came to flag use by civilians, there weren’t any clear instructions on how the flag should be displayed or carried. Civilians are NOT required to follow military regulations. An example of this would be folding the flag. Only the military requires the flag to be folded into a triangle. All civilians and even civil personnel (law enforcement, firefighters, etc.) can fold the flag into a rectangle or even roll it up.

What prompted the establishment of flag-related guidelines was the growing popularity of the flag following WWI and its increasing use in various contexts, such as public buildings, schools, and parades. As the flag’s use by civilians became more widespread, there was a need to ensure that it was treated with the proper respect and dignity.

Group portrait of female American Red Cross workers with uniformed boy scouts (possibly) with a Red Cross flag holding money, during a Red Cross parade, Birmingham, Alabama, May, 1918. US War Department photo.

One of the common problems back then was carrying a flag flat in a parade to collect donations for a cause. Money would be tossed into the flag for the organization. The Red Cross did this regularly. In the photo here you can see this. While this is a Red Cross flag, and nothing wrong with that, there is a similar photo of volunteers holding the American flag for the same purpose.

The flag is never carried flat. The Pentagon recently added that to flag guidance for the military.

If you are wondering about fringe on the flag and the cord and tassels, read this.

Similarly, the flag is not to be drawn up or festooned. as is unfortunately shown here by Utah’s Lt Governor in 2023.

In response, the National Flag Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in 1923, played a crucial role in developing a comprehensive set of guidelines for the flag’s use. Participants used the 1917 Army and Navy regulations, along with ideas/traditions from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other European nations. The recommendations of this conference formed the basis for the eventual United States Flag Code.

The U.S. Flag Code was officially codified in Title 4 of the United States Code, public law, in 1942. Although it needs expansion, it provides clear instructions on how the flag should be displayed, handled, and honored. The code was intended to instill a sense of reverence for the flag and to establish a common standard for its use across the nation.

The International Code

The United Nations (UN) has agreed upon standards for international flag display. And so does the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). And the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Some countries require fringe on their flag, others forbid it. All flags in countries that read left-to-right, are draped that way, but not all countries that read right-to-left display their flag that way (most do).

  • UN
    • UN members first alphabetically in English, then non UN members.
  • NATO
    • NATO is alphabetically in French.
  • IOC
    • Alphabetical order, as they appear in the host country language.

Read, Check, Understand, and Apply

When planning events it is important to know which set of rules the event falls under. If you are uncertain, contact your state protocol expert or a vexillologist.

Written with DeVaughn Simper, Resident Vexillologist at Colonial Flag