The Medal of Honor Flag

MOH FlagAll Medal of Honor (MOH) awardees (no one “wins” this medal) are authorized a presentation, at government expense, of the MOH flag.

The following is from the US Army’s Institute of Heraldry.

A light blue flag with gold fringe bearing thirteen white stars in a configuration as on the Medal of Honor ribbon.

The light blue color and white stars are adapted from the Medal of Honor ribbon. The flag commemorates the sacrifice and blood shed for our freedoms and gives emphasis to the Medal of Honor being the highest award for valor by an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Public Law 107-248, Section 8143, legislated the creation of a Medal of Honor Flag for presentation to each person to whom a Medal of Honor is awarded after the date of the enactment, October 23, 2002. A panel of eight members made of representatives from each Service (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard), one Office of Secretary Defense staff, one historian and one representative from the Medal of Honor Society was formed to review and evaluate all designs submitted and make a final recommendation to the Principal Deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. On 15 December 2004, the design submitted by Ms. Sarah LeClerc, Illustrator at The Institute of Heraldry was approved.

Public Law 109-364, Section 555, titled “Authority for Presentation of Medal of Honor Flag to Living Medal of Honor Recipients and to Living Primary Next-of-Kin of Deceased Medal of Honor Recipients,” dated October 17, 2006, established authority to award the Medal of Honor Flag, upon written request therefor, to the primary next of kin, as determined under regulations or procedures prescribed by the Secretary of Defense, of deceased Medal of Honor Recipients.

Merritt Island Competition Critiques

On 30 Jan 16 Merritt Island High School hosted the first Brevard County Army JROTC drill competition. With C/MAJ Anderson, from Florida Institute of Technology, who is working on an engineering degree, I judged Unarmed Squad Regulation and Armed Squad Exhibition. I was head judge for the regulation sequences and cadet Anderson took over that position for the exhibition portion of the day. What a great day!!

Below are the DrillMaster Audio Performance Critiques for download. I also broadcasted three of the performances on my account at Periscope, @TheDrillMaster. In performance order:

  2. MIHS Female UA SQD REG
  3. CHS Male UA SQD REG
  4. AHS Male UA SQD REG
  5. AHS Female UA SQD REG
  6. CHS Female UA SQD REG
  7. MIHS Male A SQD XD
  8. MIHS Female A SQD XD
  9. CHS Male A SQD XD
  10. CHS Female A SQD XD

The DrillMaster Broadcasts Live on Periscope!

DrillMaster PeriscopeOn January 30th, 2016, I will broadcast two or three routines from Merrit Island High School’s Army JROTC Drill Competition while I judge platoon exhibition and regulation. The broadcasts are then turned into video recordings

If you don’t have Periscope, go to your app store for your smartphone, download it, and then follow @TheDrillMaster!


How to Execute Change Step

Feet- Change StepGive the command, Change Step, MARCH! on the right foot. In the image at right, you can see the foot placements just before, during and right after giving the command. The following is what each service manual says on the specific execution of the command.

A non-military explanation of the steps:
The tempo is 120 SPM (steps per minute). We can mark each step like this (the numbers are an example of we count it musically):




To execute Change Step, it looks like this with the command, MARCH, called on the first right step for our scenario:




The Step-Step-Step, happens quickly and not at the same tempo. If you execute it at the same tempo, you will never change your step pattern, you will still be on the same foot.

The Army

This movement is executed automatically whenever a Soldier finds himself out of step with all other members of the formation. It is only executed while marching forward with a 30- inch step. To change step, the command Change Step, MARCH is given as the right foot strikes the marching surface. On the command of execution MARCH, take one more step with the left foot, then in one count place the right toe near the heel of the left foot and step off again with the left foot. The arms swing naturally. This movement is executed automatically whenever a Soldier finds himself out of step with all other members of the formation.”

The Marine Corps (Navy & Coast Guard)

“2212. TO CHANGE STEP. The purpose of this movement is to change the cadence count without changing the rhythm of the cadence.

  1. The command is “Change Step, MARCH.” It may be given while marching at quick or double time, marking time, or double timing in place. The command of execution is given as the right foot strikes the deck.
  2. While Marching at Quick Time or Double Time
    • a. On “MARCH,” take one more step, 30 or 36 inches, as appropriate.
    • b. As your right foot comes forward to the next step, place the toe near the left heel and step out again with the left foot. This changes the cadence count, but not the rhythm.
  3. While Marking Time
    • a. On “MARCH,” lift and lower the left foot twice in succession.
    • b. The second time it touches the deck, raise the right foot and continue marking time.
  4. While Double Timing in Place
    • a. On “MARCH,” hop twice on the left foot.
    • b. Continue double timing in place.”

The Air Force

“The command is Change Step, MARCH. On the command MARCH, given as the right foot strikes the ground, the airman takes one more 24-inch step with the left foot. Then in one count, place the ball of the right foot alongside the heel of the left foot, suspend arm swing, and shift the weight of the body to the right foot. Step off with the left foot in a 24-inch step, resuming coordinated arm swing. The upper portion of the body remains at the position of attention throughout.”

No matter which service, DO NOT turn turn your hips and/or shoulders to the right, keep them squared forward to the Line of March.

“Military Neck”

Military schools across the nation are notorious for telling their new cadets to pull back/tuck their chin. It’s difficult to tuck your chin, pull in your stomach while it’s up against the edge of the table, and look straight ahead while eating your three squares a day. Eating at the position of Attention.

Three Squares (a meal): take a scoop of food on your fork, move the fork straight up above your plate, directly across from your mouth and move it straight to and into your mouth. You follow the same path, put your fork down and then chew.

The problem that this position, your tucked chin, creates, is what the medical world calls, “Military Neck”. It can cause issues for the people who have it. In the picture below, my neck looks just like the one on the right. This could be a problem for all kinds of current and former cadets.


An excerpt from

Does Military Neck Hurt?

No, not always. A neck can be straightened without neck pain symptoms, however, a military neck is often noted with muscle spasm which pulls on the spine. This is often seen after a whiplash injury from an accident and is primarily seen on x-rays. A military neck may be related to stiff neck muscles, headaches related to neck problems and restricted or painful motion.

What Can Help Military Neck?

Military Neck2Correcting a military neck is a long-term process, there are simply no quick fixes. Similar to wearing braces on your teeth, making changes to the curve of the cervical spine takes time. One thing is certain, as a postural problem, it will not magically fix itself. A combination of 3 methods can provide solutions for improving a military neck, as well as the health of your cervical spine.

To find out more about this condition and its treatment click here to go to

I urge all military schools to reconsider or, at least, research enforcing this position for the health of their cadets.

Color Guard Flag Stand Problems Resolved

Flag Stand Help (3)Many of us have been in the situation of posting the colors in a low-profile flag stand and have tried all kinds of things to stop the flag from looking like can’t stand up straight. At right, is one method of trying to fix the problem, stuffing cardboard or paper towels around the inside of the hole of the stand. It really doesn’t work all that well, though. There is always a possibility that the material used will shift or flatten out and the staff and flag will tilt to one side causing embarrassment. There’s no need for concern!

mfs1_standIf you have the funds, you should get this floor stand. It looks amazing and is the perfect stand for an honor guard. Several years ago, I worked with Wendy Lazar, the former owner of Glendale Paradestore, to sell the version without the three-flag adapter, which is what color guard units need when posting colors. It is, however, almost $300. Click the image to go to the stand’s page at Paradestore.

Glandale Floor Stand Adapters 1101and1102Glendale Paradestore has a less expensive solution that is about $20, pictured here. You can click the image and it will take you to the page. This is the perfect solution if you have a low-profile floor stand. But what if you have quite a few stands? The price can add up considerably. Flag Stand Help (4)In steps a friend of mine, Officer George Hallett of the UC Berkeley Police Department. When he attended a DrillMaster Honor Guard Academy in 2014, I told the students of the above adapters and how effective they were. At lunch, he walked in the classroom with a tube that goes under a sink. He picked it up at a hardware store for, wait for it, $8! The only issue is that it is threaded at both ends. However, the threads are few and from a short distance, they are difficult to see.

Flag Stand Help (1)If you have silver stands, all you have to do is remove the labels and you are good to go. If your stands are gold, paint the tube gold. Easy.




Vocabulary Vs. Excellence

XD K-state-eduMany members of the Military Drill World catch the bug for solo exhibition drill (XD) and create a lifestyle around spinning. Some of the newest XD Drillers, however, try to be a Sam Gozo, Andres Ryan or Matt Wendling in a matter of weeks by attempting to learn as many moves or “tricks” as possible. Thinking that is the way to go- no real direction, just create an immense vocabulary, no matter what it all looks like. Here is some direction for you:

It has taken Sam, Andres, Matt and literally countless other Drillers years of work to get where they are and not just two or three years, I’m talking serious, dedicated work for well over five years each. Yes, you will see improvement within the first year, but do not kid yourself in thinking that you have finally “arrived”. Keep on practicing and attending competitions.

Here is a comment that I’ve given to many new XD Drillers:
“You have a very wide vocabulary, but you really need to concentrate on excellence and building your core Muscles. Take one move, work on it for a few days and perfect it. If you are satisfied with the results, go to the next move and repeat the process, include the first move in your new “mini routine” and keep adding. If you throw all kinds of moves together and never really concentrate on developing each one individually, you will never generate the kind of excellence expected and really required in military drill.”

By following that advice, you will build a vocabulary the proper way, by concentrating on excellence and building the muscle groups that will help you manipulate the rifle. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be a challenge for one of these World-Class Drillers.

Training and the Three Styles of Leadership

Leadership taskandpurpose-comImage from

Training Levels. Since I spent my last seven years in the Air Force as a Unit Education and Training Manager (AFSC 3S2), I will use the USAF’s levels. They are applicable to everyone, no matter what task, no matter if you are in the military or not. Our emphasis here is military drill and ceremonies.

  • A 3-Skill Level: Apprentice. This equates to first-year cadets after they have gone through their initial training in all regulation drill (RD).
  • A 5-Skill Level: Journeyman. A cadet, (first- and possibly second-year) fully trained in RD, who still needs time and experience.
  • A 7-Skill Level: Craftsman. A cadet (third-fourth-year), fully skilled and capable of leading a color guard and a platoon/flight in RD.
  • A 9-Skill Level: Superintendent. A cadet (third-fourth-year) fully skilled in RD and tasked with maintaining standards while supervising others training new cadets.

Eisenhower on Leadershipimage from

Leadership Styles: Directive, Participative & Laissez-Faire. These are the three basic types of leadership. When I first learned about them in AFJROTC in high school (79-83), I thought you picked one and stuck with it, making other people deal with your selected “style”, the style you thought fit with your personality. I soon learned that you are not supposed to do that! You use each one of these styles on a moment-by-moment basis, depending on 1) the situation and 2) the person/people.

On paper (or on screen), it can seem straightforward and even easy, but when you begin applying what you have learned on other people, it can be difficult.

Directive. Also called, Authoritarian. You, as the leader, make all of the decisions and tell your team everything they need to do. This is a punitive leadership style and many people immediately think of that as its only aspect, but there are other reasons to adopt this style.

  1. Time-sensitive project and you do not have time to explain all of the details to your team.
  2. Team member(s) is 3- or 5-Level and still learning.
  3. Used in initial training and then you gradually transition to another style, as appropriate.

Participative. You allow your team to have a say in how tasks are accomplished. you check on their progress occasionally. Some 3-Levels and most, if not all 5-Levels and all 7-Levels. This style is used most often and can lead to Laissez-Faire with some team members needing you to revisit the Directive style.

Laissez-Faire. This means you can allow your team to do what they need to do because you are fully confident that the task can be accomplished effectively. Some 5-Levels and most, if not all 7-Levels and all 9-Levels. Some team members will need you to revisit the Participative style at times.


JROTC Drill Team Issues


My name is John and I was selected to be the drill commander for this year. It’s only been a few days and we are already having problems, especially between my selected leaders. The whole atmosphere changed the next day when my AI handed me the drill cord, it was like my leaders didn’t want to socialize with me anymore (Problem 1). Some of them actually fought with me about getting the position (Problem 2). Others try to take over while I’m teaching, but I need my leaders, I know I can’t do it on my own. I try talking to them in a meeting or even individually but they never listen. I don’t want to yell at them to do things or baby my drill team becuase we just started and I don’t want to scare off the LET1s by yelling at someone, but my leaders don’t want to work with me. I’ve been kicked out of the staff chats and someone showed me everything they were saying. I know as a drill commander it’s my job to just concentrate on my team and get things done but now I just feel I’m on my own here and I don’t know what to do.

Hi John,

What a dilemma! It may not help, but you are not alone, metaphorically. This is a common problem in JROTC.

Addressing Problem 1. Leadership is lonely- or can be. The social issues are part of what happens. Leaders begin to distance themselves from those they lead when selected for a position- to a certain point. For a high school cadet, this can be tough as teenagers are very social creatures.

Side note on leadership. While each member should be treated the same at the beginning of your new assignment, you will see which team members need to be treated differently to get the same results. It has to do with personality and also level of training. Here is what I mean.

Addressing Problem 2. The reason this is happening is because your cadets do not see leadership in you- or they THINK they don’t see it. Let’s change that. Come at them with a plan and, here it is.

Bad JROTC instructor? Click here to read if this may play a part.

smart goal setting conceptYou have three types of goals, short-, medium- and long-term. RD= Regulation Drill; XD= Exhibition Drill

See the article, Create  Goals Not Dreams. SMART goals are best. Image from

Your short-term goals:

  • Assign Drill Team Trainer and Lead LET1 to ensure LET1s are fully trained in RD
    Ensure all drill team members attend practices
  • Get two/three volunteers to help you plan the team’s XD platoon/flight (and squad/element) (armed and unarmed) sequence(s)
  • Encourage all team members to practice XD at home (Check out this sample of some basic armed XD that I teach)

Your Mid-term goals:

  • Assign Commanders* for Squad and Platoon RD Armed and Unarmed sequences (must memorize sequence)
  • Assign Backup Commanders* for Squad and Platoon RD Armed and Unarmed sequences (must also memorize sequence)
  • Learn all RD sequences and perform from memory

*Armed and Unarmed Squad and Platoon Commanders and their Backups are only in charge of that specific portion of the team when in competition only. Assign these commanders as you see fit- have tryouts in three weeks, that gives team members enough time to memorize the sequence they want to command. You can break this down further if you have a male and female team.

Your long-term goals:

  • Attend and win X-number of competitions (identify all competitions coming up)
  • Assign someone to help you with planning transportation to events

Write all fo these goals on the classroom board during a team meeting. Tell the team this is what you have come up with and ask for their input about any goals you may have missed and how to achieve the goals. You must show strong leadership at all times and ignore the petty immaturity that happens outside of drill team time. During drill team time- practice and meetings- it’s you who is in charge, but you do not need to be a hammer. Be assertive and know what you are doing. The only way to know what you are doing is to learn and read.

Read all of my articles with the Drill Team Training tag and Ask DrillMaster tag . Give the tag to all of your teammates and get them to read them as well. Everyone needs to be educated.

Dear reader– what is your input? Please comment below.

How To Present the Colors at an Event

I was talking with one of the JROTC instructors at one of the local high schools where I teach in the afternoons and he was relaying the story of their color guard presenting the colors for a professional ball club and how the training I gave the team really helped since it provided the cadets and the instructors with a repertoire of moves from which they could choose to make their colors presentation look as professional as possible. Then it hit me- I really need to write an article about this! Yes, all of this information is in my book, The Honor Guard Manual, but, I really want to get this information out as far and wide as possible- as I always say, “Education is key”!

UPDATE: Which way does the team face? A cadet contacted me on Instagram asking about the proper direction to face for presenting the colors. That is an excellent question! Below, the images concentrate mainly on professional events where the team must hit a certain mark for the TV cameras. However, there are high school and college games that come into question, although many college games, if not all, are probably on the same level of a professional event with TV cameras.

High School Games

I appreciate why a team would face the end zone instead of the home team stands and fully support that thinking, this is exactly what my color guard used to do while I was drum major of my high school band. Doing it is very appropriate, here’s why: it’s a game, not a war. Yes, I understand that some may build a sport up to the level of “doing battle on the field”, but it’s not even close. The other team is not made up of enemies. The other side of the field or court is full of spectators; parents and grandparents who are out to see their student play his or her heart out. Everyone is there to support their team and enjoy the sport. Facing only one side does not create a sense of mutual respect.

Sporting Events

There are a couple (at least) different ways to enter, position, and exit a sports field. Some, provide a unique “problem” on how to accomplish the ceremony while keeping the flag in the primary spot (to the marching right or in front). Once you read this, you will not encounter any more “problems”.

Below I have created images to illustrate the different ways to enter and exit the different fields you may come across. If it is a professional sport, your team will have a certain spot to hit at a certain time while facing a certain direction for the TV camera all coordinated with the timing for the broadcast.

Do you need to find out how to execute the moves mentioned above (e.g. Every Left On/Off, etc.)? Get these books that will explain everything for you (click on the title):

The Honor Guard Manual

DrillMaster’s Color Guard Coache’s Field Manual

Basketball Court

Basketball Colors Presentation

Entrance from the viewer’s left. For this setup, the team would form up in column formation and wait. At their cue, they would march forward, round their corner to the right at the corner of the court, and at the center line, execute Every Left On, to rearrange the team for the presentation. The team may wait at the back of the court and again wait for another cue, or continue to march forward once in line formation and hit their mark for the presentation. An alternate to this is rounding the corner at the key and executing Every Left On at center court.

The same principles apply for Baseball and Football.

Baseball Diamond

Baseball Colors Presentation

Entrance from the viewer’s right. For this setup, the team marches out to the pitcher’s mound, or behind second base in single file, picks up Mark Time at a predetermined spot, and executes a Colors Turn-On. The exit would then be either a Colors Turn-Off to exit to the viewer’s left, or Every Left Off to retrace the path of entry.

The Football layout is similar to the Basketball layout.

Football/Soccer Field

Football Colors Presentations

Ice Hockey, however, is a little different. Notice the Big difference in carpet positioning at the beginning.

Ice Hockey Rink

Ice Hockey Colors Presentation to the Right

The first setup involves entering, traveling down the carpet and presenting to the right. This involves Every Left On. To exit from here, the team execute a Colors Turn-Off.

Ice Hockey Colors Presentation to the Left

The second setup involves traveling down the carpet and presenting to the left. This involves Colors Turn-On. To exit from here, the team execute Every Left Off beginning with the Right Rifle/Axe Guard.


Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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