The Cherry Blossom Festival Joint Service Drill Exhibition

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The Marine Corps won the first Joint Service Drill Competition years ago when it was held inside a shopping center. You can see brief videos of that on YouTube. There was a long hiatus and the competition started back up, this time in front of the Jefferson Memorial. The Joint Service Drill Exhibition is now held at the Lincoln Memorial.

Exhibition? What happened to the Competition?

The last competition, which I judged, was in 2011 and the Air Force was the winner- by a hair. Why the change? Fairness. The Marine Corps and Army have had their separate drill teams in one platoon and the members of those platoons have had their specific job of perfecting the routine. The Air Force eventually created a flight that does the same thing. I’m not completely informed as to the Navy’s team, but they probably have a platoon that is only for drill. That leaves the Coast Guard. They will never be able to win- that is not a statement that should in any way be associated with the CG’s team being poor. It is not. I am thrilled to watch all of the team’s performances every year ad love to watch the Coast Guard’s team.

Why won’t they win? They are the smallest honor guard and are unable to have honor guard members totally dedicated to the drill team. All of the Coast Guard honor guard members must master every element of the honor guard: Colors, Pall Bearers and Firing Party. They all can switch around as needed so most of their time is spent practicing all of their duty related tasks, drill team is extra. Those who are on the drill team put in extra hours- and do a great job, mind you- but the routine must be kept relatively simple.

The other teams that have dedicated honor guard members can create complex routines that “wow” the crowd and while the Coast Guard drill team still “wows” crowds with their performances, their routine, when viewed through a judges lens of Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Equipment and Movement is unable- on purpose- to be as complex and still have the excellent execution that we see in the other service honor guard teams.

So, instead of handing the trophy back and forth between the Air Force and the Army, with the Marines getting in there every few years, we can go and watch and appreciate all of the performances since, in reality, they are winners just because they get up every morning, put on a perfect uniform, honor our country’s war dead and heads of state and then go off to practice drill.

DrillMaster’s Score at Home Sheet

With the elimination of judging (which I fully support) from the yearly Presidential Honor Guard Drill Team performances, that doesn’t mean you can’t decide who you think is the “winner”! Let’s face it all of the teams are fun to watch and do a wonderful job, but we all have our favorites.

I’ve created a very simple four-caption score sheet and scoring system for you to download and use. See how you think the teams did and stack your results up against your friends’ and family’s.

The Pentagon Channel and others may air it. Check your listings.

The Uniform and Presenting the Colors

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard Leave a Comment

I post what I call Micro Training Moments on Instagram. You can see them at right. Over the years, I have centered around the color guard because there is so much that is urban myth surrounding presenting the colors and a large community of under-educated team members. Education is my calling and the color guard is at the top of the list.

Fairchild AFB (WA) SERE team Presenting the colors for their ceremony in the AF utility uniform

One of the sub-topics that comes up often is the uniform that a color guard wears when posting or presenting the colors. For those in the military (Active, Guard, & Reserve), we know that the color guard’s uniform should match the official party or at least the occasion. Read All About the Color Guard here.

  • If it’s a colors presentation in the field, we would expect everyone to be in their service utility uniform.
  • A change of command at a home base would most likely be in service dress/Class A.
  • Installation honor guard/ceremonial teams wear there ceremonial/Class A uniform 99.9% of the time for ceremonies. It’s rare but possible for a colors presentation in utilities.

To present the colors in a utility uniform in public is considered inappropriate. Even though you are only at a local baseball game, you still represent your service and should do so to the best of your ability.

Posting colors in the Rein-Main (GE) community in the AF ceremonial uniform

Cadet programs should follow the same guidance, Class A or even B is the appropriate uniform- all of the time. There isn’t a reason to present in utilities for cadets that I can think of except possibly this: Friday night football game colors presentation and a drill meet the following day. I understand that completely and would hope that others do as well.

The Formal Occasion

However, what about the formal occasion where everyone is in mess dress or the service dress combination with bow tie? These two formal uniforms do not require a cover, which does not meet the color guard standard. In this formal situation, the color guard does not dress to match. The Class A/Ceremonial Uniform is the top uniform for the color guard. A mess dress or Class A with bow tie combination are not appropriate for a color guard.

After the colors presentation, you can always change into a formal uniform if you so desire. Just don’t do as the cadet did in the picture at the top and present in a bow tie with an unauthorized white shirt (no collar).

Service Drill Teams Attend Annual Training Camps

DrillMaster Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard 4 Comments

Each year around the end of February and the beginning of March, each of the service drill teams (Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force- not sure about the Coast Guard*), leave their duty station and head out to train for about 30 days to work on the upcoming season’s routine.

USMC SDP Challenge DayBefore the teams leave for training there is a challenge time or, at least for the Marine Corps, Challenge Day. Honor guard members wishing to be a member of the team can perform the drill team’s manual, which they have practiced for weeks, and be graded in the hope to make a performing spot on the season’s team.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Silent Drill Teams, separately, go to different installations around the country and the Silent Drill Platoon along with the Drum and Bugle Corps heads to Yuma, AZ each year.

The photo is courtesy of the Marine Corps and shows a Marine performing for a grade by his inspector.

*Unlike the other service drill teams that have permanent members who are assigned to the team and usually do not have other honor guard duties, the Coast Guard’s honor guard is very small and all honor guard members are cross-trained and certified on the different ceremonial elements. Members volunteer to march on the drill team but the assignment is also part of their regular honor guard duties, so they have double and triple roles to perform in any given day with funerals, VIP arrivals, etc. including drill team practices and performances.

First American Flag Triangle Fold into the Canton

The Meaning of the Thirteen Flag Folds

DrillMaster Honor Guard, Honor Guard Training, Instructional, JROTC Leave a Comment

There is no official meaning to the folds of the American flag.

No matter how strongly anyone insists that there is, there really isn’t any meaning behind a single fold. Click here for different unofficial flag fold scripts. There is a proper way to fold it, however.

Many videos liter the internet of how to fold the flag. In all honesty, most of these videos show terrible folding techniques. There’s even a flag company video that shows two employees folding the flag- upside down and backwards. Really. Several honor guard units also posted some videos showing very bad fold techniques.

Sagging, flipping, and ending the fold with red and even stripes showing, all are available for your viewing horror.

Please note. There is no other technique for folding the flag than making two horizontal folds and then thirteen triangle folds. While each military service has a slight variation as to how this is ultimately accomplished, there is no other authorized way.

I made the following video while I worked with a Army-based cadet organization located in Kentucky. I taught all ceremonial elements during the first and only Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy.

Color Guard with POW/MIA flag outside of formation

All About POW/MIA Flag Protocol

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard, Honor Guard Training, Instructional 9 Comments

Depending on where you live in the US, you can count on strong feelings as to whether the POW/MIA flag should be marched in a color guard for a parade.

Title 36 U.S. Code § 902 – National League of Families POW/MIA Flag

The information in the Flag Code is instructions for US government agency display. It has no information on a citizen, let alone the military, flying the flag.

League of Families Information

This information comes from a Veteran Service Organization, neither of which may dictate standards for the military. Link at the end of the article.

Military Service Manual Guidance

Other information that I have been able to find, with the assistance of Mike Kelley (DrillMaster002) reminded me, comes from AFI 34-1201, Protocol:

2.11.10. The POW/MIA flag will always be the last flag in any display.

What that means: In a line of flags, it will be the last flag in the stand. When flown from the same halyard as the US and a state flag, it is at the bottom, not in between the US and state. [Yes, I am aware that certain agencies have written guidance counter to this. My reasoning here comes from extensive research.]

Proper Display of the POW/MIA flag from a fixed flag pole

2.11.11. The POW/MIA flag will always be the last flag in any display, except on the six national observances for which Congress has ordered display of the POW/MIA flag. On these days it is flown immediately below or adjacent to the United States flag as second in order of precedence (however it still would be flown after other national flags). The six national observances are National POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday of September), Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day. The POW/MIA flag is not carried or displayed in parades or reviews, however is authorized to be carried at official military funerals.

POW/MIA flag as a personal Color at a funeral

What that means: Even though this text is for the US Air Force, ALL SERVICES are not allowed to carry any non-military flag with very few exceptions and that includes the POW/MIA flag. Only an honor guard member may carry it as a Personal Color for the funeral of a former POW. Read here.

All Services. Military personnel in uniform or civilian clothing are not authorized to carry any non-military flag AR 840-10, MCO P5050.2 and AFI 34-1201. This means all military color guards are not authorized to carry the POW/MIA flag in or outside of a color guard formation. Again, the only time the flag is carried on its own (never with guards) is during a funeral for a former POW. It is not carried in parades.

Military, including JROTC, CAP, Sea Cadets, & Young Marines: No, you are not authorized to carry the POW/MIA flag.

First responders: Follow The Honor Guard Manual. Most likely you march a POW/MIA flag within the team formation. My advice is to stop including it in your color guard. March the US, state, and department flags.

Veterans groups: Veteran color guards follow a service D&C manual, which then dictates that you should follow the manuals that affect it (flag and protocol manuals). The end result is to not march it at all, it’s not authorized. Many veteran color guards carry it as part of their standard compliment of the American flag, joint service flags, and then the POW/MIA flag, but that’s not protocol to add any other flag: no state or POW flag is authorized. March the US and state flags or, if you want to march a joint service color guard: US, Army, MC, Navy, AF, & CG, no other flag is authorized in a full or partial joint service colors formation.

Depending on your location in the US, you will hear some very strong convictions (read: yelling matches) on whether it is OK to march it in a color team or not. Strong convictions do not replace written standards and just because a national veteran’s organization has written guidance does not mean that guidance has taken service standards into account. I know this is not comfortable to read.

The POW/MIA flag history is here. The League of Families website is here.

First Responder Funeral Guidelines

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These guidelines are for the United States Certified Ceremonial Guardsman program for more information on the program and how you and your team can be certified, click here to send me an email through the contact section on the Home page. Click here to download these guidelines to include them in your unit’s program. Developed in Coordination with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and West Palm Beach Police Department. If you have any information that you think should be included, please send it in and I will share it.


  1. First responder employees have a sense of family that develops from the close working relationships and fellowship that is characteristic of the law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical service professions. It is important to demonstrate proper respect for the deceased, the next of kin, and coworkers.
  2. This document establishes the different levels of funeral honors and guidelines for official representation of the honor guard at funeral ceremonies.


    1. NOK – Stands for Next of Kin, the closest family member(s) to the deceased, usually a spouse.
    1. COACH – A much more gentle term for the hearse. Used in front of the family.
    1. HGC – Honor Guard Commander.
    1. FLAG TYPE – It is up to the NOK to decide on whether the deceased has a casket draped with the American, state, or municipal flag. Every American citizen is authorized to have the American flag on their casket. It is just a question of who will fold and present the flag.
  3. CASKET WATCH – At minimum, one, but usually two unarmed (does not apply to service weapon) honor guard members stationed individually at the head and foot of the casket during the period of visitation or viewing of the deceased. Guards are changed on a rotation basis. The length of the watch depends on the number of trained watch guards. Heads-down is not authorized. Casket Watch guards must remain looking forward for communication with other team members including cues.
  4. COLOR GUARD – At a minimum, four honor guard members: two rifle/axe guards and two color bearers (US and state). The team may add a departmental flag. If the deceased served simultaneously in two departments (e.g. LEO and fire), both departmental colors may be added in joint service order: LEO, Fire, EMS.
  5. TROOP ESCORT – Uniformed members who flank the walkway between the house of worship or funeral home and the coach/caisson and gravesite.
  6. FIRING PARTY – Four or eight honor guard members (including the commander) who fire three volleys over the gravesite during the graveside service.
  7. PALLBEARERS – Six or eight honor guard members designated to carry the casket.
  8. HONORARY PALLBEARERS – Six or eight friends of the deceased and/or uniformed personnel designated to flank the pallbearers. At the discretion of the NOK.
  9. CAISSON – A fire truck with the hose bed used to transport the casket. Some cemeteries have a replica caisson made of wood that is either pulled by horses or the honorary pallbearers.
  10. MOTOR ESCORT – a minimum of two but no more than four LEOs on motorcycles to help the funeral procession through traffic.
  11. LAST RADIO CALL – Coordinated with central dispatch. The call goes out for the deceased’s badge number with no reply.
  12. CAPARISONED HORSE – A saddled rider less horse.
  13. AVIATION FLYOVER – A single aircraft coordinated to fly over before the flag fold and presentation to the NOK.
  14. BURIAL AT SEA – If the uniformed member served with a marine unit, burial at sea (casket or urn) is authorized provided it is in accordance with local environmental requirements.
  15. PIPES AND DRUMS – the musical unit to play whenever the casket is transferred from a building to transportation and to the gravesite.
  16. LONE PIPER – For funerals not authorized a full pipe band.
  17. USHERS – (not a ceremonial element, can be department employees or family friends, check with NOK) used in the chapel service to direct the attendees where to sit.


The following categories outline each ceremonial element provided and the number of members of the element in parenthesis. There are specifics listed below that only apply to a LEO or firefighter funeral.

  1. Full Honors Funeral – Line of Duty Death. A uniformed sworn employee who sustains a Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Casket Watch (2)
    2. Pallbearers (8)
    3. Honorary Pallbearers (8)
    4. Flag Draped Casket (US, state, or municipal – NOK)
    5. Flag Fold (2+) and presentation
    6. Color Guard (4+)
    7. Apparatus Caisson
    8. Motor Escort
    9. Firing Party (8)
    10. Bell Ceremony
    11. Taps (live bugler)
    12. Last radio call
    13. Ushers
    14. Pipes & Drums
    15. Aviation Flyover (if aviation unit)
    16. Caparisoned Horse (if mounted unit)
    17. Burial at Sea (if marine unit)
  1. Standard Honors Funeral – Line of Duty Death. An active civilian employee who sustains a line of duty death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Flag Draped Casket (US, state, or municipal – NOK)
    2. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    3. Color Guard (4+)
    4. Motor Escort
    5. Pipes & Drums
    6. Last radio call
    7. Ushers
  2. Regular Honors Funeral – Deceased While Employed. A uniformed sworn employee who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Casket Watch (1, 2 if manning allows)
    2. Color Guard (4+)
    3. Pallbearers (6)
    4. Flag Draped Casket (US, state, or municipal – NOK)
    5. Flag Fold (2+) and presentation
    6. Motor Escort
    7. Firing Party (4)
    8. Bell Ceremony
    9. Last radio call
    10. Taps (live or digital)
    11. Solo Piper
    12. Ushers
    13. Aviation Flyover (if aviation unit and manning allows)
    14. Caparisoned Horse (if mounted unit)
    15. Burial at Sea (if marine unit)
  1. Modified Honors Funeral – Deceased While Employed. An active civilian who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, may receive the following honors:
    1. Color Guard (4)
    2. Motor Escort
    3. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    4. Ushers
  2. Uniformed Retiree Funeral Honors. A retired sworn uniformed employee who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, may receive the following honors:
    1. Color Guard (4)
    2. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    3. Taps
    4. Ushers
  3. Employee Retiree Funeral Honors. A retired civilian who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Color Guard
    2. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    3. Ushers


  1. Administrative Coordination. The appointed Family Liaison is responsible for securing pension, insurance, state or federal compensation, or benefits due the deceased’s NOK.
  2. Ceremonial Coordination. The Family Liaison will contact the NOK to ascertain if they wish official participation in the funeral. If official participation is desired, the Family Liaison will contact the HGC to coordinate with the funeral director regarding ceremonial duties at each stop of the procession.
  3. The HGC and ceremonial element leaders will visit the funeral home, house of worship, and gravesite to coordinate arrangements for each ceremonial element and report back to the Family Liaison.


  1. During all ceremonies and especially in front of the NOK, the specific terms must be used to reflect the professionalism of the team and dignity of the event (funeral, colors presentation, etc.). The following are terms and their subsequent replacement:
  1. Hearse – instead use, “Coach”.
  2. Coffin – instead use, “Casket”. In the USA, we do not normally carry a coffin, a six-sided container without handles.
  3. “Detail” – This generic term conveys a sense of “I need some volunteers” and those volunteers are possibly reluctant. Instead, use the ceremonial element terms: “Firing Party”, “Colors”, and [pall] “Bearers”. When writing about a request for ceremonial presence (a “detail”), use the term, “Ceremony” to be more clear.
  4. Fire Team, Firing Squad, and Rifle Team – These terms are not accurate descriptions of the ceremonial element known as the Firing party.
  5. See the book, The Honor Guard Manual, for a complete description of all ceremonial honors connected with a funeral and other occasions and the sequence of events.


The following are procedures for civilian employees, retired employees and active or retired members from other agencies.

  1. Upon notification of a line of duty death from another agency, the Communications Supervisor forwards the notification to the Sheriff/Chief and HGC.
  2. Sheriff/Chief notifies HGC on recommended representation.
  3. HGC sends recommendation for official representation to Sheriff/Chief.
  4. Sheriff/Chief gives final approval.
  5. HGC notifies honor guard members of requirement to deploy.

Scorn, Rebuke, and Criticism

DrillMaster Color Guard/Color Team, Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard Leave a Comment

Before we begin, let’s define some terms. We need to define these terms because some believe they already know what these terms mean, but in reality, they don’t understand them at all and that leads not only to confusing communication but also an adversarial atmosphere which accomplishes nothing.

Applicable Terms

Scorn: a feeling and expression of contempt or disdain for someone or something.

Rebuke/Scold/Reproach: express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.


  • The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
  • The analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a performance.

Constructive Criticism: The process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, not in an oppositional but professional manner.

Destructive Criticism: Purely negative comments purposefully designed as an attack against another. It is never useful.

You Put on a Uniform…

When you join an organization you automatically gain a responsibility to it especially when you wear a uniform. In the case of a cadet org, your responsibility is to your unit, (school), community, cadet HQ, the service (AF, etc.), and the USA (in the case of a color guard). You are not just a regular Joe or Jane. Same for everyone in uniform.

Why do we have competitions?

To hone our skills and to ensure we are following standards (regulation drill) and/or to display our expertise in a certain area to where others approach us to find out how we train and practice. A competition is not about seeing who is better than others, but who or which team has better training and more efficient practice methods. Seeing competitors as the adversary is the wrong outlook.

Team Green should be able to go to Team Blue and ask, “How did you XYZ?” and Team Blue should then be able to then give an explanation. This is explained in the aphorism first coined by President John F. Kennedy, “a rising tide lifts all boats”. It is the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants (all teams) in that economy. For our purposes here economy means a particular system and that system is the Military Drill World.


I have been judging visual performances for many years. While I was stationed in Netherlands, I was certified by Color Guard Nederland (the Dutch sister organization of Winter Guard International) as a General Effect Visual adjudicator. I judged for Drum Corps United Kingdom, Drum Corps Holland, and the Pacific Coast Judges Association in California. Since 1994 I have judged JROTC drill meets in several states and different countries and have judged a fire department honor guard competition. If you look at my Instagram account you will see that I have “judged” well over 1000 videos and images sent in by followers and posted them on the account. This doesn’t take into account the multiple hundreds of MP3 files that I have sent to Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve military members from all services (yes, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, & Coast Guardsmen), international drill teams, solo Drillers, JROTC instructors, and cadets with my real-time feedback of their performance.

Most of the time my feedback is quite critical and has few positives. That is unfortunate, but many times a rebuke is necessary. We learn from rebukes, not scorn. My comments are based on the written standards (Flag Code, all service D&C, protocol, and flag manuals) for regulation drill elements and the only written standards for exhibition drill, the World Drill Association Adjudication Manual.

Feedback on the Feedback

I receive appreciative feedback all the time from those who request a critique and on a consistent basis from those who are not even involved with the critique request (helping others learn by another’s mistakes). And then there are those who don’t have a clue.

“They’re just children!” is my favorite ridiculous comment, referring to JROTC cadets who have never picked up their service drill and ceremonies manual and yet presented the colors at an event. Other comments I’ve received: “You should thank them (veterans or military in uniform performing horribly) for just being there”, “Their hearts are in the right place”, and the latest, “They are just Civil Air Patrol Cadets, give them a break”.

I’ve tried to explain what is going on to these people in an attempt to help them understand that standards always matter regardless of your age or any other factor that happens to come to mind. Unfortunately all I receive in return is scorn, which devolves into personal attacks. I don’t explain anymore.

There is No Excuse

If you are military or a cadet, read your applicable service manuals, all of them are available for free here. If you are in a Scouting-type program, stand by, more information is coming from The DrillMaster specifically for you. If you are a first responder, get on board with the United States Certified Ceremonial Guardsman program withe the ceremonial standards detailed in The Honor Guard Manual.

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.