Ten Things Every Cadet Should Know

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Drill Team Technique

Thank you to Cadet Leighanna Smith for her email that resulted in this article!

Stepping up into a leadership role means you have taken on more responsibility and that responsibility is to your leadership, your peers, and your trainees and even yourself.

First, you must be patient. This means that you should not become easily exasperated – even when your patience is at its end- don’t show it. Everyone learns in a different way and sometimes one or two just don’t get it. When that happens, you need to be willing to put forth more effort, slow down, go step-by-step, and maybe have someone else step aside with that individual and teach one-on-one.

Second, you must be thoroughly educated in what you are teaching and fully committed to your team. This means that you have read all of the applicable service manuals before you begin teaching and that, when you begin teaching again, you review those manuals. It also means that every other school’s thinking has NOTHING to do with what your team is doing. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, so you MUST stop being concerned with everyone else. Concentrate on your cadets.

Third, be willing to learn. We all come to any task with some preconceptions, a bias, about how we are and how others should respond. Once you begin teaching others you are most likely going to learn that your bias has no place whatsoever in the teaching atmosphere. This means that you need to approach each training session with an open mind to maybe learning something about yourself: your expectations, your lack of patience, etc. Then, be ready to improve yourself. Sometimes this process can be a little painful, but we can grow and help others grow as well. We can also learn something from those we train. Whether we understand a new way to communicate a task so that someone with a different way of learning can achieve or simply understanding that a team member is going through some pretty heavy personal struggles and yet still coming to practice, appreciate learning as it can reveal many things to and about you.

Fourth, be methodical in your teaching: start at the feet and work your way up with each segment of training. This means, when you are teaching standing manual, show and explain what the feet look like. then the knees, hips, shoulders, neck and head, hands, and elbows. Show what the first step must look like with arm swing, how the body remains erect, and that you don’t lean forward. Explain that a pivot is a movement on the platform of the foot and not just the toe. Etc., etc.

Fifth, Google Maps is wrong. “You’ve arrived” is what I hear when I have reached my destination when driving. As a teacher and even in life, if “you’ve arrived”, then you either have probably become lazy and unwilling to progress. The only competition you have is yourself – the only competition your team has is the team. You and your team will never “arrive”, keep improving every single day, even if you “win”.

Sixth, you don’t win at a competition. You win over time. Every single time you get up early in the morning go through your day, and then go to practice (before and/or after school), put in 100% along with practicing on your own,doing homework, getting your reading done, taking the dog for a walk, taking out the trash for your mom, etc., etc., etc. You’ve already won. Plugging away at life and then going above and beyond to put in the work for the drill team – that’s winning. Trophies are nice, but you don’t need one. Your goal should be striving for excellence and constant improvement, not some piece of plastic that sits on a shelf and gathers dust.

Seventh, sticks, stones, and words hurt. It can be painful to hear or hear of someone who is just railing against you online or in real life. Pay not attention, keep pushing forward and improve. DO not defend yourself against meaningless words and tell your friends to not tell you about those hateful people and the things they say. Stay the course. This is also the case in reverse. You should never belittle anyone, especially those you teach, in person or online. Keep your words polite and in line with educating.

Eighth, praise in public, punish in private. Always keep that in mind, but also think of this: when educating you will most likely seldom “punish”, you will inform, train, and instruct. You need to do that in public so that your whole team can learn. While a team member may do something dumb at some point, educating that person in front of the team creates a bigger learning experience. Now, if this “dumb” thing needs a certain level of punishment (verbal counseling, documentation, etc.), that is then accomplished in private with an instructor present.

Ninth, leadership can be lonely. You may have friends on the team and that’s fine. Everyone need to understand that their is a chain of command and that everyone has a responsibility to the team. Practice time is practice time – focus on the task at hand. After practice, have a different kind of fun and play games or whatever you enjoy.

Tenth, teach your teachers. Believe in and perform the process above and teach others to do the exact same thing. When you teach someone else to be a better teacher than you and to not need your guidance anymore, you’ve done your job and have left your unit a better place. Instilling these ten qualities in others ensures continued success.

Now, pray that God will use you in a mighty way and He will!

The Harch, Harms, & Hace of AFMAN 36-2203

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Word pronunciation can be peculiar in the US military. However, if we look at it with logic, we can understand the the application of those possible peculiarities (See this article, Root Step and Command Pronunciation).

Figure 2.2 from AFMAN 36-2203

Page 16 of the Nov 2013 edition of AFMAN 36-2203 has an historic pictogram, Figure 2.2, that shows how the Air Force calls commands. After separating from the Army in 1947, we, the Air Force, eventually created our own drill and ceremonies manual, AFM 50-14, by taking several moves and techniques from the Marine Corps and the Army and created an “Air Force-ized” drill and ceremonies manual. “Harch” and “Harms” just happen to be two of those techniques from the Corps, which does not use the term anymore except at Marine Barracks Washington (note: the Marines at MBW are the only ones in the Marine Corps who are authorized to use Harch, Hace, and Harms). My research indicates that those terms were used Marine Corps- and maybe even military-wide and then changes began in the 1960s.

Having said all of that, the terms, “Harch” and “Harms” are not written anywhere except for in that image. All references to commands write out the whole words, “Forward, MARCH!” and “Present, ARMS!” So, why is this image in the manual? In paragraph 2.3.4 the Air Force defines the meaning of inflection as a necessary quality for calling commands, along with projection, distinctness, and snap. This is the only reference for Figure 2.2 as graphically portraying some commands as far as inflection goes, not pronunciation. This does not mean that Harch and Harms are the terms that must replace March and Arms, respectively. Again, the figure is historic. None of the writing in the manual describes command pronunciation except for counting cadence (“Hut, Toop, Threep, Fourp“).

This then creates an issue with the command for Attention. In the Air Force we say, “Tench-Hut!” For the other services, we say, “Ah-Ten-Shun!”. All by tradition. On an historic side note, all of the services used to use the term, “Ten-Hut!” as late as the 1960s. I’m glad we got away from that one, however, I was taught to use that term in AFJROTC starting my freshman year in 1979. But, you should not!

As a reference, Army Training Circular has a similar issue, nothing states how to exactly pronounce Attention, but the Figure 3-1 on page 3-5 shows the pronunciation but, again, it is in the section regarding the qualities of the command voice. So, even though there isn’t strict pronunciation guide in AFMAN 36-2203, we can, and probably should, still use the traditional pronunciations of Harch and Harms, but what about, Hace?

I cannot find “Hace” anywhere in the AFMAN. Not in Figure 2.2 or anywhere else. This indicates that it should not be used at all.

Why the “H”?

Projection, mainly. When I was in high school I was in AFJROTC and band. During marching band season, we went to the Arizona State Band Day, a marching band competition. On that Saturday, we finished very early so that all of the bands in competition that day could play on the football field of Sun Devil Stadium at the half time of the game. We formed up and played to the crowd on one side, executed a Rear March Face (from Attention, left foot forward, turn on the platforms of both feet 180-degrees to the right, bring the left along side the right), and played to the other side of the stadium. We executed the three-count turn around for a reason, to yell out the schools letters, “ASU!” However, just saying the letters can sound muddled from a distance. So, what do you do? You put an “H” in front of each letter for better projection and enunciation. The result was, “HAY, HESS, HOO!” This could be why the US military used/uses the Harch, (HACE,) and Harms.

Do Pallbearers Remove Their Cover?

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No. Yes. Well…

When I received this question a few months ago on my Instagram account, I went right to work answering it as I went through a typical scenario in my head. At the same time, my friend, CN Alec White, a current US Navy Ceremonial Guardsman assigned to the Casket Team, gave a different answer from a different point of view. A different context is what we were both thinking, even though both of our answers were correct. Having the Officer in Charge of the US Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard weight-in brought a complete answer for the question and everything worked out.

So, I thought I would present a full answer here for future reference.

Pallbearer, Casket Bearer, Body Bearer

No matter the title, each military service pallbearer team has specific protocols for their job. This also applies to first responder teams as well. While no two ceremonies are exactly the same, constant practice enables the team to adapt and overcome with minutes of notification- or less.

The Casket Bearers of the Navy’s Ceremonial Guard move Sen. McCain’s casket from the chapel at the US Naval Academy onto the Old Guard’s caisson.

First Responders: Here Are Some Scenarios.

  • The remains have been transported from the site to the morgue. All of the pallbearers are in duty uniform and may be part of the  department honor guard or not. Depending on your location and your job, duty uniform may not require a cover. The uniform for the informal movement of the remains does not matter.
    • Location: In the northeast of the United states, most law enforcement duty uniforms include a cover.
    • Job: Many sheriff’s deputies are required to wear one of a couple of different covers in duty uniform.
  • Transport of the remains from the morgue to the funeral home (if required) can sometimes be a little more formal. However, the uniform may not matter, unless the family is there. The family’s presence dictates how formal and precise movement should be.
  • Interment Day. Place covers before advancing to retrieve the remains (casket or urn). Once at the chapel where the service will take place (could be the funeral home or another location), wear covers to place the casket/urn.
    • Not staying for the service: the covered (wearing hats) pallbearers move the flag-draped casket is in place and depart to out of sight of the family while remaining covered. At the designated time, form up out of sight of the family, place your covers, and move to retrieve the remains for transport to the grave site.
    • Staying for the service:  move to your seats (to the left of the family), sit as one unit, and then remove your covers. At the designated time and moving as one unit, replace your covers, stand up, and move to retrieve the remains for transport to the grave site.

Placing a casket when the aisle is too narrow or the remains and casket are too heavy.

In the case of the deceased being considerably overweight and having a heavy casket (in some cases you could be carrying 1500 lbs or more), the pallbearers may need the assistance of a bier/church truck to move the casket. Placement on the bier can take place upon removal from the coach/apparatus, or on arrival at the doorway of the chapel.

The casket must also be set on a bier and pushed into place by two pallbearers when the aisle is too narrow for all of the pallbearers to carry the casket and set it into place. For this instance, all pallbearers bring in the casket, set it on the bier, remove covers, and step back. The pallbearers designated as Head and Foot, hand off their covers to the person next to them and bring the remains down the isle feet-first with Head pushing and Foot guiding. Once in position, if the flag is dressed (ends folded up), Head and Foot fix the flag so that it properly drapes all around and depart.

On the way out, Head and Foot retrieve the remains the back of the chapel, dress the flag, step back into place, person next to them returns their cover, moving as one unit the team members place their covers, and carry the remains out to the coach/apparatus.

Many thanks to my friends, Coast Guard LT Brandon Earhart and Navy CN Alec White for their input and of course their service to our country not only in their respective branch, but also for stepping up to render honors in the National Capital Region and beyond.

Taps: “America’s National Song of Remembrance,” Information and Origin

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In The News

That will be what the bugle call Taps is called when a proposal that is now in the House eventually passes. Read the complete story here.

See also Taps 150 and TapsBugler.

What to do

– During a rendition of Taps at a military funeral, memorial service or wreath ceremony,

-All present not in uniform should stand at attention facing the music with the right hand over the heart;

-Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

-Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of Taps and maintain that position until the last note;

-When Taps is sounded in the evening as the final call of the day at military bases, salutes are not required.

Conduct info from: http://tapsbugler150.blogspot.com/2010/06/protocol-during-taps.html


No, it’s not the infamous story of a son fund on a battlefield during the civil war, read this excerpt for the true and complete story of Taps.

Give a listen to one of our great Americans, John Wayne, as he briefly and thoughtfully explains Taps.

Raising the Flag the Day After a Death

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Quick post today:

Apparently, some of my fellow Americans are completely unaware that the Flag Code states that the flag will be raised to full truck from half staff the day after a certain government official’s death. The time is different for different officials. Read US Code Title 4, Chapter 1, The Flag Code, here.

Sen. McCain received his honors as far as the flag flying at half staff is concerned.

Formal Casket Watch

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Casket Watch Procedures

Read about the difference in Formal and Informal Casket Watch here.

Here are some DrillMaster Casket Watch procedure videos to help you to get a better understanding.

How an individual died should not reflect on the honors received (suicide). This is different from a Line of Duty Death vs. off-duty or retiree.

From my book, The Honor Guard Manual.

To many in the honor guard world the term casket watch, is unknown. That is unless you are on an LEO, firefighter, or EMS honor guard. These members have known of and performed a casket watch for many years for their fallen. Let’s get into what casket watch is and how it is performed. The minimum for a casket watch is one guard who can informally or formally post at the head of the casket.

There are three parts to first responder casket watch:

  1. Watch Guard Entrance/Initial Post
  2. Watch Guard Change
  3. Watch Guard Final Watch

The members of the casket watch are:

  1. Watch Commander
  2. Watch Guards (these members can be specifically identified, if you choose)

If selected as part of the funeral protocol, two unarmed (armed with a rifle/shotgun/axe is considered inappropriate inside a chapel) honor guard members watch over the casket of the fallen during the viewing or wake. In most cases these members take their positions at the foot and head of the casket at Attention/Stand at Ease. Depending on the duration of the viewing or wake, watch shifts established. If a WC is not present, either of the watch guards will call subdued commands.

Watch Guards: DO NOT bow your heads while posted. This eliminates your ability to receive communication. Read, Making Things “Ceremonialer”

Watch Guard Initial Post

At the beginning of the first watch, two guards and the Watch Commander (WC) enter the room (from either side or the front) where the watch is taking place. For this manual we will assume an entrance from the front. All commands are subdued. No facing movements (except Three-Count About Face) or flanking. (If unarmed, ignore weapon commands.)

  1. The Watch Guards and the Watch Commander enter the room and form up at the back of the chapel at Attention. The WC gives the subdued command, Step, and all three members begin marching toward the casket at Slow Time (60-90 steps per minute).
  2. Within approximately four steps of the casket the WC gives the subdued command  “Haaalt” on the left with another right step and close.
  3. All three automatically salute (with a three-second count up and down).
  4. Upon dropping their salutes, both watch guards then step off and move directly to their positions in the same amount of steps without flanking.
  5. When each guard arrives, they simultaneously execute a Three-Count About Face and remain at Attention.
  6. The WC executes a silent salute, executes a modified Three-Count About Face (“T”, “L” Step) and departs.
  7. The guards now go to Stand at Ease.
Casket watch, honor guard, casket guard, flag-draped casket, military funeral, police funeral, leo funeral, firefighter funeral, ems funeral, death watch
Casket watch, honor guard, casket guard, flag-draped casket, military funeral, police funeral, leo funeral, firefighter funeral, ems funeral, death watch Casket Watch Procedures

Casket Watch Initial Posting: Arrival

Casket watch, honor guard, casket guard, flag-draped casket, military funeral, police funeral, leo funeral, firefighter funeral, ems funeral, death watch
Casket watch, honor guard, casket guard, flag-draped casket, military funeral, police funeral, leo funeral, firefighter funeral, ems funeral, death watch Casket Watch Procedures

Casket Watch Initial Posting: Guards Posting

Casket watch, honor guard, casket guard, flag-draped casket, military funeral, police funeral, leo funeral, firefighter funeral, ems funeral, death watch
Casket watch, honor guard, casket guard, flag-draped casket, military funeral, police funeral, leo funeral, firefighter funeral, ems funeral, death watch Casket Watch Procedures

Casket Watch Initial Posting: Guards and WC turn together, WC departs

Watch Guard Change

The time between changes of the guard is entirely up to you. It is an honor to stand watch over a fallen comrade and as many who would like to should be given the opportunity.

NOTE: When changing Watch Guards, the guards DO NOT salute each other, they are to only salute the flag/deceased.

  1. The Watch Guards and the Watch Commander enter the room and form up at the back of the chapel at Attention. The WC gives the subdued command, Step, and all three members begin marching toward the casket at Slow Time (60-90 steps per minute)
  2. Within approximately four steps of the casket the WC gives the subdued command  “Haaalt” on the left with another right step and close. When the oncoming team halts, the guards at the casket come to Attention.
  3. All three automatically salute (with a three-second count up and down). DO NOT SALUTE EACH OTHER, the salute is for the flag. The guards at the casket do not salute.
  4. Upon dropping their salutes, all four guards exchange places in the same amount of steps without flanking and execute a three-count about face. When all guards reach their spots, the off-going team salutes, and after dropping their salutes, simultaneously execute a modified Three-Count About Face (“T”, “L” Step) and depart.
  5. The newly placed guards now go to Stand at Ease.

Casket Watch Guard Change: Entrance

Casket Watch Guard Change: New Guards Posted

Casket Watch Guard Change: Old Guards Move Inward

Casket Watch Guard Change: Old Guards and WC Salute Flag and Depart

Watch Guard Final Watch

The Final Watch ceremony can be used before the pall bearers enter the room to retrieve the casket for transportation to the burial site.

  1. The WC enters the room and marches to a position approximately six paces from the casket and halts. Guards assume Attention.
  2. The WC renders the slow hand salute.
  3. When the WC drops his salute, the guards come to Attention and posts in front of the WC to each side and all three execute a slow salute a modified Three-Count About Face (“T”, “L” Step) and depart.

Note: An alternative to the above Final Watch change, is to have the final two guards switch to being pallbearers. They then push the casket out of the chapel to the other pallbearers who either join them or replace them.

Final Watch: WC Arrival

Final Watch: Final Salute of the Flag

Final Watch: Departure

Does the Military Perform Casket Watch?

Joint Service Casket Watch in the Rotunda for Pres. George HW Bush

The simple answer: it isn’t tradition for veteran funerals. The exception is in special circumstances like when a President dies and lies in state at the rotunda of the Capitol building. There is a joint service team that stands facing the casket off of each of the four corners. There is also an officer or NCO/CPO who stands at the head of the casket.  The guards stand watch at Attention (they are armed with a rifle- not loaded and stand at Order) for one hour and are then changed. As the guards enter and exit they carry their rifles at Trail Arms, but at an angle, it’s more of a ceremonial look to this standard position. A group of ceremonial guardsmen from each service can rotate through a 24-hour period standing watch every few hours, it’s up to the ranking individual who stands at the head of the casket. There are also two more ceremonial guardsmen standing off to the side ready to move in if something happens to one of the guards.

The Marine Corps and Casket Watch

The Marine Corps does, on occasion, perform this duty with one or two Marines.

All information and images are from The Honor Guard Manual (DrillMaster Press) and are (c) John K. Marshall

Drill Team Technique

To Pin or not to Pin, That is the Question

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It’s all about Purposeful Movement

“You must pin your free hand!” Not necessarily. In this picture below, a still from one of Adam Jeup’s (pronounced “jewp”) training videos, you can see that Adam has purposefully pinned his right arm while executing a rifle toss with his left. There is a reason he did this: “military flavor,” enhanced power to the toss, etc.

Adam could have chosen to place his right arm at any point on the clock (let’s say 9:00) and the move would have been a variation and still looked good if he could keep his right arm steady in that position. He also could have kept it moving from the 6 o’clock position pictured to 12 while executing this movement: another variation- layered body movement under the rifle work. This is difficult stuff to do, though, and is for advanced Drillers who can easily manipulate the rifle and then create variations/other movements.

Pinned Arm

The picture below, from army.com, shows the US Army Drill Team during their performance at the Joint Service Drill Competition probably in 2009. The point of the picture is to show you the free arms of three of the soloists. Do you see how they are in different places? They all should be pinned: it looks cleaner, keeps the “military flavor” theme that is the number one requirement for the service drill teams and also does not take energy away from the toss.

Army.com unpinned arms

Drill Team Technique

Running Practice for a Competitive Drill Team

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ff785d98-1551-4a5f-a934-bb218127ea61.jpgTraining, Practice and Rehearsal, three different types of well, practice. Here is an article on the Difference Between Practice and Rehearsal and an article on the Difference Between Practice and Training.

Whether you are on a first responder or military honor guard or a JROTC/ROTC drill team, your responsibilities are the same to a point: develop your skills, keep them sharp and, if you can, learn new skills.

How to Run a Competitive Drill Team Practice
You must cover these areas at drill team practice: Inspection, Regulation Drill and Exhibition Drill. There is one other area to cover whether drill team members or other cadets, color team (color guard). If the color team members are also drill team members then, obviously, you will have to have these cadets practice their sequence either on their own or for part of the drill team practice.

Scheduling your time between platoon/flight and squad/element regulation sequences, then moving on to the exhibition sequence and even then working in color team(s) into the mix can be quite a challenge.

Find out the layout of the next competition’s inspection area and work to enter and exit the area with the team.

I remember when I marched on my JROTC team and we had a very small room (on purpose) for the inspection area. We marched 17 members with fourth squad entering first, then third, second, first and me last, the commander. The team formed up at the back of the room with just enough space for the judge to walk behind 4th element and we opened ranks perfectly and then it began. What I do not remember is how we exited. Practice marching into a small area/room by squad/element using “(Column of Files) File from the Right” command.

We did very well my four years on the team because we had dedicated cadets and, what was even more important, we had dedicated instructors.

Regulation Drill
Armed and unarmed platoon/flight and squad/element sequences can take the least amount of practice if you have created a solid foundation of drill and ceremonies in your JROTC program. All cadets should at least be familiar with all stationary drill (standing manual), flanks and columns. Proper execution of each movement is key and then working on alignment and distance should follow.

All team members should read applicable D&C manuals and the Commander(s) should eat, sleep and breathe the regulation sequence command list until it is completely memorized.

The color team is part of regulation drill, but needs very specific attention. The uncase and case parts of the sequence must be accomplished per a mixture of the Army Training Circular and your service’s D&C manual. Yes, a mixture. Click here and read this article for a complete explanation.

First responder honor guards need to practice their procedures for competitions and performances.

Exhibition Drill
This is also where that solid D&C foundation will help, plus personal practice time. Creating an effective routine takes time, teaching it takes time and, finally, practicing it takes time.

All of the parts of a drill competition take a great deal of time and you must find a balance. If your teams practice for two hours every day after school, you will be able to find that balance with relative ease. If you practice Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour-and-a-half, that balance will be more difficult- but it is doable.

What do I recommend? Start early- even during the summer and teach new cadets all they must know for regulation drill to be perfect in their execution. Then, run through those regulation sequences twice a week to keep them fresh in everyone’s memory, with the rest of the time spent on exhibition.

Lastly, give 100%, 100% of the time. Each time you practice make that practice seem like a performance on the competition field and be professional. If you can do your best with the resources you have and come in 8th place and still know that you gave your all, trophies will never matter.

Is it “Tall or Tap,” “Tall Tap” or What?

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When first falling-in for a flight or platoon formation, after the dressing to the right, the leader of the formation (Drill or Training Instructor or even the Drill Team Commander) might use a term that some seem to be unfamiliar with, “If you are taller than the person in front of you, tap him on the shoulder and move up!”

The formation is given Right Face (facing the element/squad leaders), told  “If you are taller than the person in front of you, tap him on the shoulder and move up!” and then given Right Face again (facing to the rear of the original formation)), told  “If you are taller than the person in front of you, tap him on the shoulder and move up!” and sometimes given Left Face (facing the element/squad leaders again) and told the same thing for the last time or given About Face to resume the original formation.

To abbreviate this relatively long sentence, the term, “Taller-Tap!” is used. It’s not “tall or tap” or “tall tap,” or any other combination of words, just “Taller-Tap!”

Do not give, “If you are shorter than the person…” This sequence is to ensure the flight/platoon is formed up with the tallest people at the front and at the marching right. Note! If you want shorter people in front, then give “Left Face” in place of each “Right Face” above.

Update: From AFMAN 36-2203, Drill and Ceremonies

4.3.2. To size the flight, the flight commander faces the flight to the right (from line to column formation) and has taller personnel (except the guide, element leaders, and flight sergeant) move to the front of the flight according to height. The flight commander then faces the flight to the right (from column to inverted line formation) and again has taller personnel (except the flight sergeant) move to the front of the flight according to height. The flight commander faces the flight back to the left (column formation) and continues this procedure until all members are properly sized.

And now you know. :-)