The Ultra-Reinforced DrillMaster Bayonet

DrillMaster and Air Force Honor Guard Airmen
TSgt Carmen Hassell and the proud Airmen of the USAF Honor Guard Supply

It took three months to create the final version of the Ultra-Reinforced DrillMaster bayonet. The DrillMaster worked with the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team and Supply Airmen to create this extremely reinforced bayonet.

The picture below is the final version. extra spot welds and a small plate of steel to reinforce the handle. This DrillMaster Bayonet* is the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team’s new practice bayonet.

DrillMaster Ultra-Reinforced Bayonet

How it Began
An Airman on the current AFHG Drill Team, SrA Jason Black, contacted my about my bayonets since they do not have a sharp edge or point- a much safer alternative than what they use in performances. The issue was training new members of the team and having them more comfortable with not only spinning a rifle, but having a bayonet on the end.

The Welded DrillMaster Bayonet was the answer, or so we thought. That and two more versions broke after training with it for a while. They needed something extremely strong to take the rigors of a new drill team member constantly dropping the rifle without the constant breakage that the team experienced. SrA Gabriel Goldsborough and finally, A1C Johnathen Howard finished the whole process.

You can now benefit from these three months of work and information exchange between the USAF Honor Guard Drill Team and The DrillMaster. Click here to go to the DrillMaster Bayonet page.

*Patent pending


Airport High color guard avoids disaster in competition thanks to ‘good … –

A cadet out of place or out of sync can loom large in the eyes of the judges at a high school drill team meet. During the 2015 Army Nationals in Kentucky on Saturday, the judging panel saw students from Airport High School overcome not just a simple error but a malfunction that could have cost them their eventual eighth overall place.

Airport High was one of 80 teams at the weekend competition and was coming off the heels of its first 4th Brigade Best of the Best championship. Things were continuing to go the Golden Talons’ way until the armed color guard segment of the Army Nationals.

The color guard’s long hours of practice helped them press on after a flag malfunction. (photo provided)

Cadet Lt. Col. Alyssa Whetstone, color guard commander and the school’s cadet battalion commander, recalls that the cadets were more than ready to showcase their precision.

“We were confident that we would do flawlessly … We practiced this event so much we could do it blind if we needed to (and) little did we know that in that moment we would have to,” she said.

The routine went smoothly in the opening moments until Cadet 1st Lt. Robert Sturkie, the state flag guard, and Cadet Sgt. Maj. Edwin Torres, the American flag guard, began to take off the flag covers as Whetstone had commanded. Whetstone quickly realized the American flag she carries was partially detached and moving on its pole. Since it wasn’t secure, the flag was in risk of touching the ground, an offense worthy of disqualification.

“It came loose at the worst possible time,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Harry Ferguson, the school’s JRTOC unit commander.

Torres said he could sense the entire group calculating what they needed to do next to save the routine.

“I was thinking that we were disqualified and it was over. But I told myself that we had to finish strong and push through the struggle,” Sturkie said. 

Whetstone adjusted her stance to raise the flag higher and proceeded along with Cadet Maj. Christian Hickox, the state flag bearer.

“I thought to myself ‘the show must go on’,” she said. 

Whetstone’s view soon was obstructed by the flag, which slid in front of her face, but she continued to call out commands. When it was time to order the colors, a command that would bring the flag perilously close to the ground, the Golden Talons were once again in danger of being disqualified.

“I told Whetstone ‘I got your back’,” Torres said.

The color guard members talk strategy before their event. (photo provided)

Trusting in her teammate, Whetstone gave the command, and Torres moved his weapon with one arm and simultaneously reached out his left hand to swoop up the flag and hold it high. He couldn’t stand at proper parade rest while holding the flag, but he saved the team from losing all of their points for that event.

“The flag touching the floor may seem trivial to some, (but) ask any of the cadets, servicemen or judges, it is definitely not trivial,” said Torres’ mother, Felicia, who works at Airport High in the guidance department.

“I take great pride in (my) country and would have done the same thing,” Sturkie said.

During the after-action report, judges commended Torres for “keeping good military bearing” and doing the job of a guard to protect the flag. Ferguson said he thinks the sacrifice cadets made to practice during their spring break was one reason they reacted so well under pressure.

“My mind went blank but the muscle memory from countless hours of practice let me perform the remainder of the event without needing to think,” Hickox said.

Ferguson said judges initially ranked Airport High as one of the top five color guards at the Army Nationals and that it was equipment, not performance, that led to their score in the top 30.

“I’ve never seen (a flag detach) in my 16 years,” he said. “It’s amazing they were able to perform.”

Whetstone said the top-30 finish was “more memorable than any first place trophy we’ve ever gotten.”

“I will always be thankful to Sturkie, Hickox and especially Torres for being there when I needed them most. They truly are an amazing color guard and amazing teammates,” she said.

The Golden Talons placed second in exhibition unarmed, second in squad exhibition without arms and fourth in squad exhibition with arms.

Airport High next will compete at the National High School Drill Team Championships, or the “Super Bowl” of drill team meets, featuring groups from all over the country and all branches of service. Ferguson said Airport High is poised to do well in the competition, held from May 2 to May 4, after beating last year’s overall runner-up at the recent Army Nationals.

“We will definitely check the flags before starting the routine,” Torres said.


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The U.S. Navy Silent Drill Team (The Jolly Rogers) in front of the Jefferson Memorial— FULL – YouTube

The Jolly Rogers from the U.S. Navy, perform their silent drill for onlookers attending the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC on April 11, 2015.


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Petition wants government to force return of drill rifles to Navy League cadets

A petition is being circulated to try to force the Navy League of Canada to reverse its decision to take away replica rifles from its cadets. The online petition, with 932 signatures as of Thursday…


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The Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard

Second Company Governor's Horse GuardThe Connecticut National Guard’s longest serving cavalry unit still serves today. Two hundred years of service of escorting the Governor and many other duties, including being called up to serve during wartime in Europe.

With severe budget cuts in the military, all units keep doing “more with less” and that includes the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard (2GHG). While they stand at the ready to receive the call to action for local emergencies, their mission is not strictly military in nature. The 2GHG’s mission from their website:

Our primary mission is to serve the Governor and the State of Connecticut as a dress and ceremonial Unit of the Connecticut Army National Guard. 2GHG is also dedicated to community service and preserving the traditions of the Cavalry in Connecticut. Troopers ride in 1928 McClellan saddles – the last issued by the U.S. Army.

Military Drill – both mounted and un-mounted – is practiced at weekly mandatory drills. 2GHG Troopers and Mounts march in over a dozen parades annually, and attend many events and ceremonies. We wear the uniforms of the Connecticut National Guard proudly, and honor traditional Army values:

  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Respect
  • Selfless-Service
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Personal Courage

2GHG participates in parades and ceremonies including all Connecticut gubernatorial inaugurals, New Haven’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, Memorial Day parades across Fairfield County, Colonial Days in Ridgefield, Powder House Day in New Haven, the Newtown Labor Day Parade, Governor’s Day at the Big E, Hartford’s Veteran’s Day parade and Stamford’s Cable Vision Parade.

Second Company Governor's Horse GuardGiving rides to handicapped children is one of the 70+ annual events and ceremonies and after each ceremony, the antique saddles and tack must be cleaned and stored and the horses, which have been donated to the unit by private benefactors, need daily care. National Guardsmen and volunteers make up the unit and perform all of the daily tasks to the best of their abilities.

Getting back to the budget cuts brings up a point: the 2GHG needs help in maintaining the horses, equipment and daily and ceremonial uniforms. The recent cuts in funding have eliminated the budget for maintaining the horses. Without the horses, the history of the organization will be just that- a piece of history about which one can only read. To donate, please click here.

My hat is off to a unit, made up of mostly volunteers, who have accomplished so much for so many others and still selflessly give.

Air Force removes POW/MIA ‘Missing Man’ table because it includes a Bible

Something is missing from the Riverside Dining Facility at Patrick Air Force Base: the traditional POW/MIA “Missing Man” table.

Such tables, a mainstay at military bases and veterans’ organizations, are set for six, one for each service — the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and civilian personnel — representing personnel missing in action or taken as prisoners of war.

The table was removed from Florida’s Patrick Air Force Base because of one item traditionally placed on the table — a copy of the Bible, according to Florida Today.

“The 45th Space Wing deeply desires to honor America’s Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) personnel,” commanders said in a written statement, Florida Today reported. “Unfortunately, the Bible’s presence or absence on the table at the Riverside Dining Facility ignited controversy and division, distracting from the table’s primary purpose of honoring POWs/MIAs. Consequently, we temporarily replaced the table with the POW/MIA flag in an effort to show our continued support of these heroes while seeking an acceptable solution to the controversy.”

Each POW/MIA table is to be set with absolute precision, according to the National League of POW/MIA Families, which described the setting this way:

The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for them.A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under God, to sustain those lost from our midst.The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.The chairs are empty – they are missing.

So how is the Air Force going to resolve the situation?

“After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere” the commanders’ statement said.

As of Monday, no one knew when the table would return, or whether it would include the traditional Bible, according to Fox News.

Two weeks before the March 28 Florida Today report, Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, testified before the House Armed Services committee that there was no war on religious liberty within the Air Force.


So how is the Air Force going to resolve the situation?

“After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere” the commanders’ statement said.

As of Monday, no one knew when the table would return, or whether it would include the traditional Bible, according to Fox News.

Two weeks before the March 28 Florida Today report, Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, testified before the House Armed Services committee that there was no war on religious liberty within the Air Force.

“The single biggest frustration I’ve had in this job is the perception that somehow there is religious persecution inside the United States Air Force,” the general said, according to Fox News. “It is not true.”

Others beg to differ.

“I’m still looking for somebody in a leadership position in the Air Force with an ounce of courage,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin told Fox. “They buckle to an extreme minority group every time, and constitutionally, they are simply wrong.”

U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., took issue with the anonymity of the person who lodged the complaint.

“Since when does one unnamed, unknown individual have veto power over the First Amendment rights of all people in the military and in this case the Air Force?” he asked.

The inclusion of the Bible has nothing to do with the faith of those using the dining facilities. It’s symbolic of the faith of those missing or imprisoned, and the faith of their loved ones that those missing will return. In such situations, faith is all we have.

If the Air Force decides to re-introduce the table without the Bible, it should add another slice of lemon in its stead — to remind us of the bitter taste of capitulation by an entire branch if the United States military to the whims an unnamed, unknown individual.

Read more:


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Admiral Farragut Exhibition Drill Team and Honor Guard were called into service three times in two days over Spring Break

In the first performance, the Drill Team, commanded by Kyndal Olander, marched during the ceremony and parade honoring Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell as the namesake for the new Bayway Bridge in Treasure Island. CSM Littrell asked the Drill Team to present and carry his Medal of Honor flag at the ceremony and in the parade over the bridge. During the ceremony, CSM Littrell thanked and recognized our Admiral Farragut Academy Exhibition Drill Team & Honor Guard, as did Master of Ceremonies, Colonel Greiger, and St. Pete Beach Mayor Lowe.

“Carrying Command Sergeant Major Littrell’s Medal of Honor flag was the greatest honor of my life,” Kyndal said. “To meet him and talk with him and then to march with him carrying his flag is a life changing experience.”

During the dedication ceremony, the US Special Operations Command Rappel Team descended the bridge with a giant American Flag during the playing of the National Anthem. Following the ceremony, the US Central Command Joint Services Color Guard led the parade over the bridge, followed by CSM Littrell and Mayor Lowe.

“Being a part of the Medal of Honor Ceremony and parade with Command Sergeant Major Littrell makes this the best spring break ever,” Drill Team member Michael Cooney said.

Drill Team member Josh Fixler said: “There is nothing I could ever do on spring break that is better than this. I marched in our Drill Team Honor Guard with a Medal of Honor recipient and we carried his flag. I will remember this day for the rest of my life.”


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True Blood actress Janina Gavankar remixes the music industry by “Just Adding Drum Corps” – Marchingbuzz

Janina Gavankar is probably best known for her time on HBO’s acclaimed series True Blood, but the actress is taking the music world by storm as a performer and an advocate for music education after collaborating with the Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps on a cover of Martin Garrix’s EDM single “Don’t Look Down” featuring Usher.


“Don’t Look Down” isn’t Gavankar’s first foray into music. She studied classical music, received training as a pianist, vocalist, and orchestral percussionist, and grew up as a drum corps fan.

“I’ve been in love with drum corps since I was 13 years old,” Gavankar said. “The level of musicianship, precision, [and] the passion grabbed me and engrained a work ethic in my brain.”

Gavankar wanted to return to her roots for her next project. After hearing Garrix’s song, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“I had this idea that I could translate that entire piece to real instrumentation, and if I could just get a hold of a drum corps it would be epic.” She pitched the idea to Drum Corps International’s John DeNovi, who put her in touch with Bob Jacobs, director of the Jersey Surf. The video features 50 alumni, staff, and current members of Jersey Surf in addition to Gavankar, who not only provided the vocals for the track but also took a turn on snare and marimba for the video.



Gavankar credits much of her success as an actress to her training in the arts.

“Having an arts education makes you better at whatever you’re going to be,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you have to end up an artist. I’ve ended up in a completely different field than what I trained in, growing up. But, I am so much stronger, every day, because I have a platform based on an arts education.”

After studying theatre performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Gavankar appeared in many movies and TV series like HBO’s True Blood, FX’s The League, and NBC’s The Mysteries of Laura. She returned to music in 2010 with a cover of Kanye West’s track “Love Lockdown,” which she credits with helping her land her role on True Blood.


“I know for a fact that when I was up for ‘True Blood’ they saw ‘Love Lockdown’,” Gavankar told Billboard’s Zach Dionne in 2012. “I know these things help me explain myself and the level of work that I’m interested in achieving. It’s a way of expressing my artistic voice without having to shout it and say ‘I promise! I’m really artistic! Just trust me!’ I have a creative mind and I will bring something extra to the table when you hire me.”


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Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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