The Joint Military Service Club replaces AFJROTC in Coatesville

A 36 year tradition was cut short last year, after the Coatesville Area School District withdrew it’s funding of the Coatesville Area Senior High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC program, the only AFJROTC in Chester County.

In it’s place the Joint Service Military Club (JSMC) was started.

According to science and biology teacher Denim Kurtzhals, who is currently going on his 19th year serving as an Air Force reservist, there are 43 students signed up. On average 25 to 30 students show up at the afterschool sessions held weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


Cadets run through drill exercises, team building exercises, military history lessons and other informational sessions lead by recruiters from all military branches.

“It’s a great way to use my knowledge and give something back to the community,” Kurtzhals said.

Bob Knecht, senior teacher advisor for the JSMC, said the program opens doors for scholarships and teaches students about different skill sets in the military.

“I think it’s really important especially based on the fact that we lost our JROTC program. One of the best things about it is that the program really provided someone who is interested in going into the military. It provided you with the extra pay grade and also the opportunities to get ROTC scholarships,” he said.

As a senior teacher advisor, Knecht said he provides general supervision, but the military recruiters are a key component in making this program successful.

JSMC Group Staff, which is made up of upperclassman, are responsible for the operation of the club, training and overseeing the cadets. They plan the two-day activities and make sure the cadets are in tune with the programs purpose — to provide training and information to students who might be interested in joining any branch of the military.

Not all who sign up for JSMC or even JROTC are interested in joining the military, Even then, the skills are valuable in settings outside military branches.

According to Paul Draper, JSMC Deputy Commander, the program also teaches cadets’ skills that can be used in professional careers.

“One of the best aspects of the program is leadership opportunity … there is military training leadership aspect of it to but there is the administrative, operational and the people-to-people leadership skills,” Draper said. “You can take these to other places then the military.”

Friends of the PA 771, a nonprofit parent created organization fashioned to help raise funds for the program, were unable to keep the program going. Then an idea sparked to form a club instead of a school-funded program.

According to JSMC parent and area resident Coleen Beckershoff, former Superintendent Richard Como told parents the program would be reinstated for the 2012-13 school year if the group manages to raise $157,000 in two months.

The deadline arrived and the group fell $20,000 until donations came in last minute to help the group meet its goal, Beckershoff said.

Unfortunately the lack of funding for the 2013-14 year, a financially unstable school district the retirement of both AFJROTC instructors of both U.S. Air Force recruiters didn’t play in the program’s favor.

“At the end of the 2012-13 school year both of our instructors resigned. The Air Force, who the school district had a contract with, our school district did not put it in the budget and the Air Force felt that they have a contract with the school district, not with PA 771,” Beckershoff said while the JSMC cadets lined up in the 9/10 Center cafeteria. “With the unstable situation in our district at the time, they did not see fit to uproot instructors, bring them here when they wanted a two year commitment.”

According to Beckershoff, they would have to wait at least five years to reinstate the program because there is a waiting list for other schools across the U.S.

“The Air Force did give us a commitment if we get it back in the budget we don’t have to wait those five years,” she said. “We can try to get it back for next year. If it is in the budget they will commit to bringing the program back.”

Follow Daily Local News staff writer Kristina Scala on Twitter @Scala_Kris and Facebook at


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The Guidon’s Two Different Salutes

While each service (Army, MC/Navy/CG and AF) has a slightly different way of having the guidon render a salute while in formation, there is another salute rendered by a guidon that each service requires when outside of a formation when the guidon bearer is on his/her own.

The only authorized giudon bearer salute  when in formation for each service ends up looking like this:

Guidon Salute

When a guidon bearer is not in a formation (either walking somewhere or standing and holding the guidon) and is approached by an officer, there is only one authorized salute, which is different from the salute pictured above. This salute is not authorized while in formation.

Guidon Bearer Individual Salute

Flag Pole Height Chart and Maritime Flag Arrangements

Flag Pole HeightFor our purposes, flagpole means a permanent pole cemented into the ground and flagstaff is one that is carried.

For flagpoles a general rule of thumb is the height of the flag should be 1/3 or 1/5 the height of the flagpole (the pole should be three or five times the height of the flag). Here is an example.

For a twenty-five foot flagpole:

  • 1/5 of twenty-five is five.
  • 1/3 of twenty-five is eight (rounded down).

Flying a flag that is larger than recommended could result in damage to the flagpole, halyard and/or hardware.

Standardized Military Flag Sizes:

These are the only authorized flag sizes flown from military flagpoles for each service.

  • Storm Flag: 5’x9’
  • Post/Base Flag: 10’x19’
  • Garrison Flag: 20’x36’

Flagpole and Equivalent Flag Size Chart (1/5)

15’: 3’x5’
20’: 3’x5’ – 4’x6’
25’: 4’x6’ – 5’x8’
30’: 5’x8’ – 6’x10’
35’: 6’x10’ – 8’x12’
40’: 6’x10’ – 10’x15’
45’: 8’x12’ – 10’x15’
50’: 10’x15’- 12’x18’
60’: 10’x15’- 15’x25’
70’: 12’x18’ – 20’x30’
80’: 15’x25’ – 20’x38’
90’: 15’x25’ – 20’x38’
100’: 15’x25’ – 30’X60’

Maritime Flag Arrangements

Maritime Mast

For the most part, the provisions of the Flag Code are manifest in the traditions and customs for the display of the Ensign ( American flag) by seamen. The following provisions are made for the display of the flag on a mast located on a base.

1. Single Mast (no Yard or Gaff)
” Ensign is flown at the truck (#1).
” All other flags are pennants flown below Ensign.

2. Mast with Yard:
” Ensign is flown at the truck (#1).
” Organizational burgee (flag) is flown at the starboard (right) yard arm (#3).

3. Mast with a Yard and Gaff:
” Ensign is flown at the gaff (#2).
” Burgee is flown at the truck (#1).
” Flags at #3 and #4 vary depending on the activity at the organization.

It is display #3 which causes the most confusion. This puts the club burgee in a higher position physically, but not above that of the Ensign symbolically. By the normal Flag Code provisions, this would seem to be an incorrect display. The tradition of the seas, however, is to hold the gaff as the position of honor; thus, the intent of this tradition and display is to give proper respect to the flag.

Where a yard is involved, rules provide that when a foreign ensign is displayed, the Ensign is flown at #3; the foreign ensign at #4; the club burgee at #1; and other flags at #2.

The gaff extends aft (to the rear), and a mast on yacht club grounds is faced seaward. Therefore the gaff will (or should) be directed toward the land. The observation point then becomes a point somewhere on the sea side of the mast. This then makes the placement of the Ensign in regard to the foreign ensign conform to Flag Code provisions.


Perfect Drill Team Rifle Tosses

The picture, below, is of a winter guard (a marching band color guard that performs indoors, see WGI) back in the 1980s. In the picture you can see the rifles are at the exact same angle while in the air and the arms, legs and bodies of the guard members are very close to being the same. 

Drill Teams: this is what you want. You want to be as close to exactly the same all throughout the performance. But how can you do this? Technique. This is for both unarmed and armed drill teams.

Here is how we can describe technique. Where you put your hands on the rifle, angles of your head, arms, legs, feet and torso.

Perfect Rifle Toss, color guard, winter guard, armed drill team

Techniques need to be the same for each of the members of your team, they have to be the same. If they aren’t your audience will notice right away. It also impairs the effectiveness of synchronous movement like marching, hand and arm movement and rifle movement, just to name a few.

Drill Team Technique

Rifle and arm angles

Drill Team Technique

Arm positions and rifle angles

Drill Team Technique

Rifle angles along with body and arm positions

Drill Team Technique

So close: Foot angles

Drill Team Technique

Arm positions and hand angles

So, now you can see technique is extremely important in all you do out on the competition field or any performance. Technique begins with initial training and must be reinforced through consistent revisiting that initial training. Without that reinforcement, techniques will begin to vary over time.

The Flagpole with Two Halyards and the Intended Direction of Display

Flagpole 2 HalyardsWhen I travel, I am usually aware of flag displays and other ceremonial aspects that many people don’t recognize. In the two pictures above, you can see three flags displayed on a flagpole that has a two halyard system at a rest stop where my wife and I had lunch.

I am posting this to educate people, not call out any one person or a state. The individual(s) who put up these flags had the right idea, but as you can see this is not the way to display the flags. I am standing on the side of the intended direction of display. Notice the American flag on the left side of the pole and the POW/MIA and state flags on the right- but below the American. This is OK, but improvements can be made.

You can see in the picture below how to display flags from a stationary flagstaff/flagpole that has two separate halyards/ropes. The intended direction of display (even if the pole can be seen from 360 degrees) dictates where the flags go. These two illustrations show an intended display in your direction with the AMerican flag to the viewer’s left.

Flag Pole with Two Halyards- Close

The picture above shows the POW/MIA flag flown directly below the American flag. Any flag flown below the American flag on the same halyard can actually be attached to the American flag’s bottom clip.

Flag Pole with Two Halyards- Space

The picture above shows the POW/MIA flag flown with random space below the American flag. There isn’t a rule that dictates whether space is needed or the amount of space.


Australia’s Federation Guard Precision Drill Team – Fort Queenscliff Open Day 2012 – YouTube

Australias Federation Guard Precision Drill Team (PDT) conduct a parade for the 2012 Fort Queenscliff open day which was also the day the Soldiers of the Aus…


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Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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