Flag Sliding Down Staff

How to Avoid a Color Guard Disaster

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team Leave a Comment

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

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

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

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

Prepare and Maintain

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

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

And Just to be Sure

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

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

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

Semper Paratus

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

See semper paratus
Know semper paratus
Be semper paratus

DrillMaster Instagram Page

DrillMaster Instagram Hash Tags

DrillMaster Announcements, DrillCenter News, Instructional 2 Comments

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

DrillMaster Tags

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

Generic Military Drill-Related Tags

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

AF Colors Whiteman AFB Dec 2019

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

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

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

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

The Guards

There are always two guards.

Equipment

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

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

Color Bearers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFI 34-1201

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

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

AFI 34-1201

The Commander.

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

2.2 Rules for Commands

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

AFMAN 36-2203

Spacing and Staffs.

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

7.33.2. The staff is inclined slightly to the front.

AFMAN 36-2203

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

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

AFMAN 36-2203

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

Chapter 1, 1-7

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

AR 840-10

Joint Service Standards.

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

AFI 34-1201

Foreign National, State, and Territory Flags.

Table A2.1. Table of Honors

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

AFI 34-1201

Flags.

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

AFI 34-1201

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

AFPAM 34-1202

Flagstaffs.

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

AFI 34-1201

2.8.1. Use the same size and type of flagstaff.

AFPAM 34-1202

Finials.

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

AFI 34-1201

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

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

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

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

The Guards

There are always two guards.

Equipment.

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

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

General
m. Color guards do not fix bayonets.

MCO 5060.20

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

Color Bearers

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

Equipment.

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

MCO 10520.3

5. Composition of the Color Guard

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

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

MCO 5060.20

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

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

MCO 5060.20

Minimum Flags and their Positions.

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

MCO 5060.20

Saluting.

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

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

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

MCO 5060.20

Spacing and Staffs.

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

MCO 5060.20

Carrying Nonmilitary Flags.

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

MCO 5060.20

Enclosure 1

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

MCO 10520.3

Foreign National, State, and Territory Flags.

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

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

MCO 5060.20

Flags.

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

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

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

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

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

MCO 5060.20

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

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

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

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

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

MCO 10520.3

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

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

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

MCO 5060.20

Enclosure 1

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

MCO 10520.3

Finials.

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

Next: Air Force Standards!

Old Guard Color Guard

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

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

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

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

The Guards

There are always two guards.

Equipment

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

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

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

Color Bearers

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

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

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

Dod Dir 1005.8

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

Equipment.

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

The Team Commander.

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

15-4 Color Guard

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

TC 3-21.5

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

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

15-2. THE COLOR AND COLORS

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

TC 3-21.5

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

AR 600-25

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

AR 840-10

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

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

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

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

AR 600-25

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

Spacing and Staffs.

15-4. Color Guard

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

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

15-14. POSITION OF THE COLORS AT THE CARRY

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

TC 3-21.5

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

Chapter 1, 1-7

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

AR 840-10

Foreign national, state, and territory flags.

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

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

AR 840-10

Flags.

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

AR 840-10

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

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

AR 840-10

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

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

AR 840-10

Next: Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard Standards

Sigonella NJROTC Color Guard

The “Why” of the Military Color Guard – Regulations

DrillMaster Color Guard, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard Training, Instructional, Protocol and Flag, Regulation Drill Leave a Comment

Makeup?

No, not that kind of makeup, if you need that kind of advice, my daughter, Courtkne, is a licensed cosmetologist and an expert aesthetician. This article is about why certain flags and certain equipment is required for a military color guard.

Introduction

Over the next few weeks this will be a series of articles because the information is just so much. I’ll break it down by service. One thing that won’t be included is specifics for cadets. Each cadet organization has seen fit to write its own standards (except Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force JROTC, thankfully) that unfortunately deviate from the parent service standards. What makes it worse, is the standards change slightly over time. This makes for a dizzying array of standards to keep up with. However, all hope is not lost. The parent service standards are always going to be relatively rock solid and cadets can always default to them.

Let’s begin with an overview of the regulations that we are to follow. Remember out of the three type of military drill: Ceremonial, Regulation, and Exhibition, this series only addresses Regulation Drill.

Regulations

This article is about regulation drill, not ceremonial. This is about what is mandatory for a color guard, flag precedence, and required equipment, not specifically techniques.

Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve

  • Army: TC 3-21.5, AR 600-25, & AR 840-10
  • Marine Corps, Navy, & Coast Guard: MCO 5060.2 and MCO 10520.3
  • Navy & Coast Guard adds: NTP 13B
  • Air Force: AFMAN 36-2203, AFI 34-1201, & AFPAM 34-1202.

Additional information on uniform specifics comes from each service’s uniform regulation

  • Army: AR 670-1
  • Marine Corps: MCO 10209.34
  • Navy: NAVPERS 15665I
  • Air Force: AFI 36-2903
  • Coast Guard: COMDTINST M1020.6.

Veteran Service Organizations

Many veteran honor guard units use either the Army Training Circular or the Marine Corps Order for their color guard. However, many seem to be unaware of the other regulations from that service that have an impact. My book, The Honor Guard Manual is always an option. Using it helps eliminate the “better manual” argument.

First Responders

Like veteran organizations, police, fire, and EMS honor guard units use either the Army Training Circular or the Marine Corps Order for their color guard or they make up things. My book, The Honor Guard Manual is the first responder national standard that more and more departments are adopting.

Cadets

For cadets, it can get a bit complicated:

  1. AJROTC – TC 3-21.5 is the standard applied accros the board. There is only one exception that I’m aware of: some drill meet SOPs make an allowance for all-female teams to use aluminum flagstaffs. This is the ONLY time these staffs are authorized.
  2. MCJROTC – Follow the Marine Corps Orders listed above.
  3. NJROTC – The Cadet Field Manual, NAVEDTRA 37116, has information that is not aligned with both Marine Corps Orders, unfortunately.
  4. AFJROTC – Follow the Air Force regulations listed above.
  5. Young Marines – The Young Marines Ceremonies Manual is published guidance from HQ YM that has information that is not aligned with both Marine Corps Orders, unfortunately.
  6. Sea Cadets – Follow NSCPUB 300.
  7. Civil Air Patrol – Follow CAPPAM 60-33, which is an altered copy of AFMAN 36-2203. CAP Reg 900-2 unfortunately seems to replace AFI 34-1201, & AFPAM 34-1202.

Above, I used “unfortunately” rather liberally and I could have continued. These cadet organization publications seem to have been written without even glancing at the associated parent service manual. Cadet organizations are under the service and therefore cannot deviate from service standards. I’ll give you some examples.

Civil Air Patrol. CAPR 900-2 states that the gold eagle finial is appropriate for the color guard US flagstaff. No, it’s not. Air Force uniform = Air Force standards. The spread eagle finial is only for the US President and Vice President. The same regulation states the CAP ceremonial size flag can have gold fringe or not (USAF requires fringe on all flags) and if it does have gold fringe, a gold cord and tassels will be attached. The gold cord and tassels is not authorized in the USAF. Plus, adorning another flag with cord and tassels and not the American flag is inappropriate. But again, we do not use a cord and tassels in the USAF.

Another example is the NJROTC Cadet Field Manual. In the pictures of the manual of arms for color guard, many pictures are just plain wrong. We do not flare elbows out to the side when manipulating the rifle, they are tucked in to the side. Nor are the elbows supposed to be tightly pinned to the flagstaff at Carry, but relaxed. Casing the colors does not take three people, it’s only supposed to be two.

Young Marines, your manual has many inconsistencies, like the other cadets organizations, but could be written in such a way as to accommodate the youngest (and shortest) members when it comes to colors guard.

Summary

To wrap up this first installment, I must communicate to you that I understand that funding plays a role. However, there is never an excuse to present the colors outside of the regs. And any excuse is just an excuse. Merely stating that “they are supporting their community” dismisses the responsibility we have when holding that American flag or being a part of that formation. Standards are standards and they begin when you volunteer to join the organization. Those standards increase when you begin wearing the uniform and increase even further when you pick up a piece of equipment.

Next week is Army Standards!

jrotc, exhibition drill, drill team

The JROTC Instructor

DrillMaster DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

The Good, the Bad…

First, lets get something out of the way. Not all JROTC instructors are great people. Not all bank tellers are great people. Pick a job and you will have someone in a position that makes you wonder why they chose to take it. On the flip side of that, there are incredible JROTC instructors in each branch (including mine, Lt Col Bernard C. Lorenz and CMSgt Earl C. Broomhead), including some of the National Guard-run programs like Junior Guard in Kentucky.

JROTC instructors are all retired (20 or more years) or medically retired from their branch of service in the US military and have chosen to help mold some of America’s youth into being better citizens- the stated goal of the JROTC program.

Next, let’s also get this out of the way. JROTC instructors need better training in drill and ceremonies in general (more on that later), but color guard standards in particular. JROTC units have color guards all over newspapers, TV, and the internet. It’s time we had some highly trained officers and NCOs to ensure service standards are followed.

In this vein, I don’t understand how NJROTC can write the Cadet Field Manual and almost completely ignore MCO 5060.2 and MCO 10520.3. But, that’s another article. Moving on.

and the Ugly

Now, there are BAD instructors. Just go to a search engine and type in “JROTC instructor arrested” and you will see a long list of men sent to prison over the years, mostly for having an inappropriate relationship with a cadet.

Another type of bad JROTC instructor is the one who is abusive. The one who is unable to leave his time as a Drill Sergeant, Drill Instructor, or Training Instructor behind. JROTC is not indoctrinating civilians into becoming Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, or Coast Guardsmen, it’s making more responsible citizens.

Lastly, in our list of Bad Instructors, we come to the individual who is filling his or her position to supplement their income. At retirement, we get 50% of our Active Duty pay, or some percentage higher. When an instructor takes a position, that brings their pay back up to a similar level when they were in the service. School districts can pay two JROTC instructors and it only amounts to one teacher’s salary since both instructors get paid half. It’s a great deal all around.

The lazy instructor will rely heavily on cadets to run things. But, cadets are supposed to run things. Yes, that’s true. However, the instructors are supposed to be involved in supervision and guidance. Drill team and color guard is not supposed to happen outside while the instructor sits in their office. And that brings us to lack of knowledge and being embarrassed to admit it.

Education is Key!

My Instagram account has what I call, Micro Training Moments. The posts I make there (and cross-post to the DrillMaster Facebook page) are most often educational critiques of drill teams and soloists, but roughly 95% of my posts are regarding color guards and the flag. By presenting critique after critique, cadets around the world have been able to more fully understand the letter and meaning of TC 3-21.5, Drill and Ceremonies; AR 840-10 [Flag Manual]; MCO 5060.2, Drill and Ceremonies; MCO 10520.3 Flag Manual; AFMAN, 36-2203, Drill and Ceremonies; AFI, 34-1201, Protocol; and AFPAM 34-1202, Guide to Protocol. One big issue I deal with on a regular basis is informed cadets and uninformed instructors.

After being glued to social media for a time and reading post after post that my social media accounts provide, cadets can become more knowledgeable about drill and ceremonies and related subjects and possibly surpass their instructor(s). With that in mind you must remember that military officers may have marched in college, but, depending on their job, have almost zero to do with drill and ceremonies while in the service and, even though its an NCO thing, most enlisted instructors have not marched since their last professional development course which probably was five or even 10 years before they retired. That’s not meant as an excuse, it’s to help everyone involved understand the situation.

JROTC Instructors: You need to be as informed as possible on all of the guidance for your service detailed above. Otherwise, I will continue to receive emails from cadets like this: (Yes, this is edited text of an email and message I received)

Hello, I am curious what to do about instructors who do not know the regulations. I am in a JROTC unit in [a state] and recently a ceremony. Our job was to hold American flags for VIPs. Our cadet corps commander told us we were to dip the flag. I refused based on the standards in the Flag Code. The commander talked to our senior instructor who ordered that I dip the flag. I again refused and said I would not disrespect the flag. I was ordered to fall out of formation and talked to by our instructors for not doing what I was told. I then showed them the exact place in the Flag Code and they said “it’s just a one-time thing”. I was absolutely amazed by the ignorance of the people that are supposed to be teaching me and am unsure what to do at this point.

A concerned cadet

I’ve received emails and messages similar to this for years now. Please, JROTC HQs and instructors, let’s work out a plan to educate instructors so that we can avoid disrespect to our nation’s flag, our state, territory, and service flags. Here is another.

I would like some advice regarding one of my instructors, he’s a former Marine DI, and he is in the mindset of a DI. I recognize that some of his methods may be extreme but I believe that he is possibly a danger to the cadets, from what I have observed, he swears constantly but he has also threatened to physically assault me and he is prone to fits of rage.

A concerned cadet

Being an instructor means being a high school teacher with all of those responsibilities, plus: teaching years 1-4 with the different books that go along with them, plus armed drill team, unarmed drill team, rifle (shooting) team, Raiders, color guard, rocketry, cyber warrior, cadet counseling, and probably more. Some schools have three, four, and even five instructors, due to enrollment but those units are few. Most, have one officer and one enlisted instructor and that’s it. Some JROTC units have just one instructor!

There is a certain incorrect perception that everyone who graduated Basic Training/Boot Camp is an expert of everything military, especially drill, because that’s what we do in the service, we march everywhere- not anymore. The JROTC instructor who doesn’t want to look dumb in front of the high school cadets who might know more about drill than he/she does and hides instead of learns, is going to hurt the program.

Side note here: While this article is more about JROTC, we must include Sea Cadets, Young Marines, and Civil Air Patrol. These youth programs bear just as much responsibility to educate cadets and present the colors within service standards.

The New Instructor

Loyalty can be taken to extremes and I am very much aware of the severe backlash that comes from treating an instructor almost as a god. I’m quite serious.

The previous (Chief, 1SG, MSgt, etc.) taught the cadets one way and he retired at the end of last school year. Now you, the usurper, the new instructor, have moved in and destroyed everything we were working for! Or, that’s how it seems to a small group of cadets.

Personality conflicts will arise. Even though it takes time for everyone to adjust, one thing that cadets have to understand is that the instructor is in charge, period. Just because your new instructor is “terrible” because “everything is different” or whatever reason, is no excuse to cause an insurrection or mutiny.

A note to cadets: Even if your new (or current) instructor is not a very nice guy/gal, you need to deal with the situation or at least learn how to do so and be respectful. You are going to come across people who will end up being your best friend and others you will not get along with, no matter what you do. Deal with it, learn, and try to understand. Dealing with others in an adult, professional manner is going to do you and everyone around you good. Trying to get your way through manipulation, arguing, or stomping off while taking other cadets with you, shows that you have much growing up to do.

Outside Flag Display Protocol

DrillMaster DrillCenter News 3 Comments

For years people have verbally attacked each other over what they thought they know to be true, especially where flag display is concerned. Even if you know what the Flag Code says and you politely try to correct someone about their display (hotel, business, school, etc.) you will probably receive and angry reply.

Standard display

The above display is for every day of the year except for the six national observances, below. See also this article on POW/MIA Flag Protocol.

Should only be displayed six days each year

Authorized for six days each year. The six national observances are:

  1. National POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday of September)
  2. Armed Forces Day
  3. Memorial Day
  4. Flag Day
  5. Independence Day
  6. Veterans Day
Proper display
Proper display

The only time the American flag is higher than

Flags must be raised to full truck

The above display is not appropriate since all of the flagpoles are the same height. The American flag should be at the viewer’s left, see the image at the very top.

Proper display withe the American flag in the center displayed with several other flags
Appropriate half-staff display
Appropriate half-staff display due to flagpole height
Inappropriate half-staff display due to flagpoles being the same height.
All flags must be at full truck
Appropriate half-staff display

In the above image, this is appropriate half-staff display with one (or more) national flags. This goes for a foreign business located in the US and also military installations located overseas. Foreign national flags may not be brought to half-staff without that government giving its OK. Military installations overseas must contact the host nation liaison for permission to lower the host nation flag.

Standard double-halyard pole display
Appropriate display six days each year (see at the top)
Appropriate half-staff display

“Intended Direction of Display” is a term that I coined to help people understand the direction of display and the location for each of the flags in the display.

Standard display
Flags located near the street should be displayed so that the American is closest to the street

The Flagstaff Spade Marker

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

The Flagstaff

The guidon staff comes in three sizes for the US military:

  1. 8′ – for guidon flags and 3′ x 4′ colors (all services)
  2. 9’6″ – for 4’4″ x 5’6″ flags (all but the Air Force)
  3. 9′ – for 4’4″ x 5’6″ flags (Air Force, for some reason, as of 2019)

The Finial

A finial is a device or ornament at the top of a color guard flagstaff, outdoor flagpole, a lamp, and even at the ends of a drapery rod. Really. We will concentrate on the flagstaff.

The US military uses only the Army spearhead (also called the spade) on all guidon flagstaffs . With first responders being paramilitary, it makes perfect sense to follow military standards. The Navy and Coast Guard may, with local funds, purchase the battle-ax finial for use on flagstaffs. Read this article to see how to replace the spearhead.

Placing the Marker

When we stand at Order, Parade Rest (Stand at Ease), and Carry (Right Shoulder), the spade should be flat to the front. In order to do this, for many years, we (older guys) would use thumbtacks that we could feel with our fingers with the staff on the deck and/or see when carried. You can see the thumbtack on the upper half of this staff (the visual marker) on my kitchen floor.

A small-head (less noticeable) thumbtack is good, the one in the picture is a large-head. On the upper part of the staff the marker is used to align the staff when in the harness socket. A very small nail driven into the wood also works. You want to use something that the color bearer can feel on the lower portion of the staff and see on the upper half of the screen. However, anyone outside of the color guard formation should not be able to detect either marker.

At Carry/Right Shoulder

On the upper half of the staff a good way to mark the staff is to hold it at Carry (Right Shoulder), ensure the spade is flat, and take a ballpoint pen and draw a straight line on the staff right between the bearer’s eyes so that it is about two inches long. Press into the wood a bit to ensure the mark is made and make the mark on the side of the staff so that the fringe gather is pointing to the rear (spade) or to the front (flying eagle, battle-ax) so that the fringe is in the proper position when the flag posted (read this article for a full explanation). The line should be placed where it can be seen by a taller and shorter color bearer.

Another method would be to use a thin strip of tape in place of the pen mark. A thumbtack or small nail are good also.

At Order and Parade Rest/Stand at Ease

On the lower half of the staff, on the front side of the staff with the spade flat and the fringe gather in the preferred direction (see above), you can cut a small “V”-shaped groove (the point of the “V” would be toward the core of the staff) into the wood that the color bearer can feel even while wearing a glove. You must now protect the groove and ensure it will not snag any material that comes in contact with it. Sand the area so that it is smooth and put several coats of polyurethane on the groove.

Another method is using a thumbtack, small nail, or strip of moleskin so that you can feel it with your gloved fingers.

What do you use?

What are some ideas that you use that other teams might be able to use?

The Military Hand Salute

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Drill Team Training, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Honor Guard Training, Instructional Leave a Comment

This article originally published on Dec 30, 2014 under the title, When in Doubt, Salute! This is an update and rearrangement of information to help everyone understand this subject better.

How to Salute

The services have slightly different techniques. One technique is followed by the Army and Air Force. The middle finger is placed on the corner of the eyebrow, the forearm is straight and the elbow is slightly in front of the torso.

The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard execute the same salute, but the right elbow is in line with the torso.

When and Who to Salute
Protocol requires a salute to the following:

  • President of the USA
  • Commissioned and Warrant Officers
  • All Medal of Honor Recipients
  • Officers of Allied Foreign Countries

Render a salute for the following:

  • US or foreign national anthems, Hail to the Chief, or the bugle calls: To the Colors, Taps, and Reveille.
  • When national colors are uncased outdoors
  • Raising and lowering of the flag
  • When honors are sounded
  • When reporting
  • When turning over control of formations
  • Arrival and departure ceremonies for state officials

Saluting Update for Veterans

The Defense Authorization Act of 2000 and subsequent years authorizes military veterans in civilian clothes to render the hand salute as the flag passes or for the Star Spangled Banner. All Marine Corps Veterans will NOT execute this salute as part of the strict Marine Corps tradition (see ALMARS 052:08).

Just in case that link doesn’t work at some point, here is paragraph 3: SALUTING. A RECENT CHANGE TO THE LAW HAS AUTHORIZED ACTIVE DUTY AND RETIRED SERVICEMEMBERS TO SALUTE THE NATIONAL COLORS, WHETHER COVERED OR UNCOVERED, INDOORS OR OUT. BY CUSTOM AND TRADITION, MARINES DO NOT RENDER THE HAND SALUTE WHEN OUT OF UNIFORM OR WHEN UNCOVERED. LET THERE BE NO CONFUSION; THAT HAS NOT CHANGED. DURING THE PLAYING OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, OR THE RAISING, LOWERING, OR PASSING OF THE NATIONAL FLAG, MARINES WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW NAVAL TRADITIONS AND THE POLICY / PROCEDURES CONTAINED IN REFERENCE (A). SPECIFICALLY, MARINES NOT IN UNIFORM WILL FACE THE FLAG, STAND AT ATTENTION, AND PLACE THE RIGHT HAND OVER THE HEART. IF COVERED, MARINES NOT IN UNIFORM WILL REMOVE THEIR HEADGEAR WITH THE RIGHT HAND AND PLACE THEIR RIGHT HAND OVER THEIR HEART. WHEN THE FLAG IS NOT PRESENT, MARINES WILL ACT IN THE SAME MANNER WHILE FACING IN THE DIRECTION OF THE MUSIC. IN CASES SUCH AS INDOOR CEREMONIES, WHEN MARINES ARE IN UNIFORM AND UNCOVERED, THEY WILL FACE THE FLAG, OR THE DIRECTION OF THE MUSIC WHEN THE FLAG IS NOT PRESENT, AND STAND AT ATTENTION.

With the Left Hand

Have you heard something like this: “Always salute with the right hand. Never salute with the left hand.

The left-handed salute while at Right Shoulder

“Always” and “Never” hardly ever apply. A missing or incapacitated right arm or a right arm that must hold a crutch for handicapped individuals (cadets) are legitimate reasons for the left-hand hand salute.

The left-hand INDIVIDUAL SALUTE while armed is authorized with the left hand for all service guidon bearers and for all Marines, Sailors, and Coasties (Army and Air Force stopped these salutes circa the 1970s) armed with a rifle while at Order or Right Shoulder.

“That’s Disrespectful!”

Saluting with the left or right hand has nothing to do with being disrespectful. The salute, in and of itself, no matter which hand is used, is respectful. The US military uses the right hand for a reason and that reason is utilitarian, not an issue of respect.

Left Salute
The Left-hand salute of the Boatswain’s Mate

Authorized Left-Handed Salutes

Did you know that there are only two authorized left-hand salutes for the American Military? Along with the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps drum major, Boatswain’s Mates are authorized to salute with their left hand when piping a senior officer aboard a ship in either the Navy and Coast Guard. The pipe is held in the right hand when played, and the salute is rendered with the left hand.

Left Salute Fife Drum Major

The Drum Major as well as the unit he leads, follows Revolutionary War standards of drill and ceremonies. That’s why the left-hand salute and the fact that his salute has the palm facing forward.

No one else authorized to render a left-handed salute in uniform, but is there an exception? Yes. Any veteran with a missing or incapacitated right arm is not going to be lectured as to the “proper” way to render a salute.

JROTC Competition

There is no such thing as an “authorized” move or position in exhibition drill. Judges: in the case of exhibition drill, please put away your bias of “right” and “wrong” way to do something that is based on what you have learned through the military. Cadets: have fun creating, but don’t allow something that someone else has created to become “absolute law” for you or your team- JROTC cadets have a great tendency to never pick up the manual and only learn by observation. Hence, what one sees must be how “it” is accomplished and no one can tell them any differently.

Hand Salute History

Here is the history of the American military’s salute, courtesy of the US Army Quartermaster Historian. No one knows the precise origin of today’s hand salute. From earliest times and in many distant armies throughout history, the right hand (or “weapon hand”) has been raised as a greeting of friendship. The idea may have been to show that you weren’t ready to use a rock or other weapon. Courtesy required that the inferior make the gesture first. Certainly there is some connection between this old gesture and our present salute.

One romantic legend has it that today’s military salute descended from the medieval knight’s gesture of raising his visor to reveal his identity as a courtesy on the approach of a superior. Another even more fantastic version is that it symbolizes a knight’s shielding his eyes from the dazzling beauty of some high-born lady sitting in the bleachers of the tournament.

The military salute has in fact had many different forms over the centuries. At one time it was rendered with both hands! In old prints one may see left-handed salutes. In some instances the salute was rendered by lowering the saber with one hand and touching the cap visor with the other.

The following explanation of the origin of the hand salute is perhaps closest to the truth: It was a long-established military custom for juniors to remove their headgear in the presence of superiors. In the British Army as late as the American Revolution a soldier saluted bv removing his hat. But with the advent of more cumbersome headgear in the 18th and 19th centuries, the act of removing one’s hat was gradually converted into the simpler gesture of grasping the visor, and issuing a courteous salutation. From there it finally became conventionalized into something resembling our modern hand salute.

As early as 1745 (more than two-and-a-half centuries ago) a British order book states that: “The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass.”

Whatever the actual origin of today’s hand salute, clearly in the tradition of the US Army it has always been used to indicate a sign of RESPECT – further recognition that in the profession of arms military courtesy is both a right and a responsibility of every soldier.

What about the President’s Salute?

First off, any civilian may receive a salute. Returning salute is not something any civilian, including the President is supposed to do. President Ronald Reagan began returning the salutes rendered to him (he had a great deal of respect for the military) and it has continued since.