The Purpose of the Side Boy Cordon aboard Military Ships

Navy Side Boy CordonThe Navy’s Cordon Custom

In today’s military, we have many unique customs. The custom of using Side Boys to welcome a visiting dignitary or officer aboard a military vessel had a real purpose at one time. Side Boys are two, four, six, or eight Marines and/or Sailors lining both sides of the gangplank or on the quarterdeck in a ceremony now known as Tending the Side. The number of in the cordon is based on the rank of the officer visiting the vessel: two members for ensigns and LTs, up to eight members for admirals.

This system originally served a utilitarian purpose in the British Navy as early as the 17th century. Back then, men did not have the luxury of walking onto their ships: most had to transfer from a small boat to the larger ship by ladder, or by a device called a Boatswain’s Chair, which was essentially a seat attached to a yardarm by a block and tackle.

Here is where the  relevance of increasing numbers in the cordon comes in: the younger and less rank you had, most likely, the lighter you were. Thus, a light midshipman or LT needed only two men on the haul rope, while an often very stout Admiral, with a forty-year career, tended to need eight men to pull them up.

Additional jobs, such as steadying the officer after getting them to the deck, and helping with the officer’s luggage, also necessitated a required number of hands.

CJCS welcomes Chinese Gen. Fang FenghuiMilitary Cordon Sizes

  • President/Former President, 21 members
  • Vice-President, 19 members
  • Secretary of Defense, 19 members
  • Chairman of the JCS/Chief of Staff, 19 members
  • 4-Star General, 17 members
  • 3-Star General, 15 members
  • 2-Star General, 13 members
  • 1-Star General, 11 members
  • Everyone else, 11, 9, 7 or 5 members*

*Whatever number can be accomodated

Cordon3

The Marine Corps’ Silver Bands

Marine Corps Color Guard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you see the Marine Corps Color Guard based at the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C., you will notice something a little different about the flagstaff of the Marine Battle Colors (the MC flag that has the Corps’ battle streamers hanging from it). Look at the picture at right.

The silver bands on the darker staff are historical. Each band is inscribed with the name of a battle (an Army tradition which was disconinued in 1961). Eventually, the flagstaff was changed (the services adopted the standardized light ash wood, two-piece staff) and the Marine corps went to streamers only.

From MCO 10520.3 (6 Nov 13)

Silver Bands
Silver bands were authorized for use for the Marine Corps on November 139. They were displayed on the staff of the battle color, organization color, or Marine Corps color to augment battle streamers and inscribed showing battle participation, campaign, expedition, etc Because of the problem created by the change in the flag staff, the fixed dimension of the silver bands, the large number of bands some organizations were authorized, and the fact that the bands were a duplication of battle streamers, the awarding of silver bands to units was discontinued on 27 March 1961 and requisitioning of bands is no longer authorized.

Marine Barracks 8th and I, as the caretaker of the Marine Corps Battle Standard, is the only Marine Corps organization entitled, and authorized to display silver bands.

Regarding the rifle guards’ opposite positions: the Navy Ceremonial Guard and Marine Corps Honor Guard are the only teams authorized to execute these positions for their services.

The Case for Cased Flags and Colors

Honor Guard Cased FlagA Cased Flag

At right is a picture of a cased flag (this is a folded interment flag). Once the American flag is folded, it is considered cased and does not receive a salute.

Here is an example: the flag is brought down in the evening from a stationary flagpole. The team folds it, forms up and marches away (with one member holding the flag like the picture at right- point up or down does not matter) to store the flag in a specific room for the night. On the way back to the building, the team encounters cadets who stop and render a salute as the folded flag passes. While, saluting is not wrong, it is not necessary and communicates that you are unaware of the published guidance regarding the flag.

MacAruther Color Guard Dipping Cased ColorA Cased Color
Just as a cased flag does not receive a salute, a cased color does not render a salute.

Literally every team in the JROTC community follows the example that is pictured here. This is a picture of the MacArthur color guard in a recent competition. Thank you to the MacArthur High School cadet who allowed me to use this picture and who was truly interested in this issue.

Why does every team dip the cased color? Because a salute from a color team involves dipping non-national colors and this is something that one would not really think twice about. None of the service drill and ceremonies manuals (you can find them all here) discuss this because it has never been and is never an issue for the military. It is drill meets that create issues like this.

When we bring cased flags and colors into one discussion, we can then make logical decisions. Dipping a cased color is not proper. Cased colors never receive a salute, so it follows that they would not render a salute. It’s like dipping a bare flagstaff- there is no reason to do so.

“Individuals or units passing or being passed by uncased Colors out of doors render honors.” T.C. 3-21.5 (emphasis mine)

So now what?
Spread the word. Educate as many people as possible. Print this article and when you attend your next drill meet, bring up this issue at the meeting and let everyone know that you will not be dipping your cased color and that he judges need to allow dipping and not dipping for the time being until everyone is fully educated. I will send a link for this article to the each service JROTC headquarters to help disseminate the information. Knowledge is key!

See also: How to Fold the Fringed American Flag

One more thing
In the MacArthur JROTC picture above, the team’s equipment is comprised of nine-foot six-inch flagstaffs and three-foot by 5-foot colors. These sizes are not meant to be mixed together (see my article here) however, teams use the larger flagstaffs and smaller colors so that the color bearers can see. Marching at close interval with the larger colors creates problems because the team members can not rely on anything else but sight and if the flag is in a team member’s face, there is a good chance the team will eventually be out of alignment and step. If they were shoulder-to-shoulder, appropriately sized colors and staffs would not be an issue.

Creating your own Exhibition Drill Uniform

Military-type exhibition Drillers around the world are looking more and more into developing their own uniform.

Creating your own uniform sounds great- after all that is what I did!

Copying a military service, law enforcement or firefighter uniform is perfectly acceptable. Many law enforcement and firefighter dress uniforms are based off of military dress uniforms. However, wearing a service’s uniform without being a veteran or cadet of that service would be frowned upon. Caution: Wearing a specific service’s uniform, without being a member of that service or service’s cadet program, is highly frowned upon. That is not to say that, when you wear a uniform that you have created, you will not be mistaken for a “soldier” of some sort. That’ is OK. Remember, wearing any kind of uniform may create some kind of question as to who you are or what you do. Explaining the situation and not wearing the uniform at any other time except for performances will work the best.

Think “uniform” and not “dress shirt and slacks” because it will look like you are wearing a dress shirt and slacks. You’re not just “dressing up,” you are dressing for the part. “Sunday-go-to-meetin’s” is not dressing for the part.

Here are some ideas of work-type uniforms. If you go with a 511 set of blue “BDUs” (for instance, the pant and the shirt), this is something that is easily recognizable as a uniform and is nondescript  It may not be what you are thinking of, but it is along the lines of a military-style uniform and this is the style you are looking to pull off to create the military flavor (click here for an article on Military Flavor) look of the performance.

Look for official dress- or ceremonial-type uniforms here: Lighthouse Uniform Co. and Marlow White.

Here’s an idea, create a persona- this is easier for a soloist, tandem or tetrad, but can be accomplished for a larger team. Create a routine that uses a special uniform on purpose (WWII, law enforcement, gangster, cowboy, etc.). Uniform also equals costume. Not necessarily a story book costume, but something that enhances the persona that you want. But remember, military flavor.

What makes a “uniform”? Trousers, a shirt, (optional- a jacket/blouse), shoes and a cover/hat. It’s about design and color. For great insight on this, I’d like to introduce my friend, Brent Becker, a uniform designer for marching bands and drum and bugle corps, has done extensive research into what makes a uniform and the history of uniforms (read an outstanding article of his here: RE-Defined: A New Look At Uniforms).

Brent BeckerBrent designs for musical ensembles, but the door is wide open for military uniforms. As a matter of fact, did you know that the Air Force Honor Guard wears a different uniform from the rest of the Air Force? Slight changes in design and material, but these are hardly noticeable. The contract for making the USAFHG uniform was awarded to DeMoulin, another uniform company that makes marching band and other uniforms just like Standury, the company that Brent works with.

Exhibition drill is ripe for uniform design for teams across the country. My hope is that teams begin to explore the opportunities an exhibition performance uniform creates.

Here is what he has to say on our subject of creating military-styled uniforms:

From my perspective, you’re absolutely on the right track. So much of the literature I’ve read on this matter refers to these garments as “Military Costuming.” This can be a bit of a head scratcher, since even today, the term “costume” is frowned upon even in more theatrical venues. However, your notion of developing a persona is an intriguing one, as it opens itself up to a physical manifestation of said character portrayal through wardrobe – this is the essence of theatrical costuming design and as such, where we encounter a relatively undefined zone in the philosophy of uniforms.

Speaking mainly from the standpoint of musical groups, much of my philosophy revolves around this idea that, a) uniform purchases are tremendous investments and that they should be, b) based upon the intrinsic values and performance demands of a specific unit within their given time and place.
Again, this is kind of an “easy out” and it doesn’t define anything per se, but it lends certain academic credence to your statement concerning costuming.

Perhaps more important here is the facet of “how” the articles of clothing in question are worn or presented. In the earliest records of European military-issued uniforms, they were part of a compensatory package – a “perk” if you will, of joining up – a man who enlisted received an overcoat emblazoned with colors and markings significant to his master or nation/state. For an impoverished peasant, this was a tremendous and cherished offering! King/Country was literally putting clothing on his back – and very often, that garment would be the absolute finest article that that man would ever wear – hence the long-standing tradition of men marrying in uniform! So dressy without being too flamboyant. Refined and mature without appearing stuffy and droll.

Uniforms in the European military tradition were also seen as something of a extension of the Colors – banners, standards, and other symbols representing Divinity, Ruler, Nation, City, Unit, etc. As a representational extension of those institutions, it is approached with utmost reverence and honor. Hence, to be referred to as “a disgrace to the uniform” is to accuse its wearer of disrespecting that which the uniform represents. So, without directly taking a serviceman’s uniform and copying it, let’s think about what those colors and symbols mean to the people who wear them and the citizens they defend. I’d recommend a sort of, “reverse engineering” of government issued attire – think about the image those uniforms create and for what they stand [emphasis mine -DM]. What can a military Driller assemble on their own to present that same-said essence?

I guess my point in all this comes back to my contextual/art & design stance – When is a uniform “military” in nature? Certainly when it appropriates physical accouterments of government-issued apparel. Sight lends itself to immediacy in the mind of most observers and as such, a visual suggestion of militaria immediately connects such a uniform to the armed forces and service organizations. But I would think the underlying motive driving one’s choice of military costuming must be considered – and this ties right back into your earlier notion about developing personae – in other words, if going with a military-inspired outfit, why? Is the Driller in question presenting an outward manifestation of honor, duty, sacrifice, patriotism, strength, precision, loyalty, etc.? If so, what kinds of lines, shapes, colors, or existing symbols can be used to suggest those otherwise intangible elements? Again, I know it’s subjective, but I would honestly leave this more open on the grounds of individual preferences within their given context. Perhaps advise striking a balance between a very standard military image and creating a unique, lasting impression, especially when adjudication is a factor.

Must read articles by Brent: Uniform Rumination.

So, dress for the part. Otherwise, you might look like you’re just headed off to church and took a wrong turn.

What is “Flow”?

Flo_from_Progressive_InsuranceThis is Flo

Her name is right there on her name tag. However, we are talking about, “flow” in armed and unarmed exhibition drill which is broken into two different types.

This is not Flow

Before we get into the two types of flow, let’s quickly go over what flow isn’t. Flow is not a sequence like this:

Port Arms to Right Shoulder into a Shoulder Roll/Drop catching the rifle behind your back and bringing it to Order.

All of those movements require completing the movement and providing what is called, articulation.

See also: Grammar Rules and Exhibition Drill “Rule” EquivalentsThe Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine, Routine Design Considerations, The Opening StatementProgramming, Programming, ProgrammingWhere’s the Power?How to Write a Military Drill Routine: Routine Mapping ToolsHow to Switch from Regulation Drill to Exhibition Drill,

Yes, the above is quite a bit of reading, but then you will be that much more educated. Now, let’s get into the “flow.”

1. Vertical Flow. This first definition is about the smooth work of a piece of equipment and/or body movement.

The word, vertical, is used to describe the brief usage of flow in the performer’s equipment or body work. This flow is only in a short segment and there can be more than one segment.

When using a piece of equipment, flow centers around continuous spinning and the Here is an example:

Unarmed exhibition drill vertical flow is more difficult as the performer’s footwork, hands, arms and body all play a part in continuous smooth movements over a short amount of time. I have judged military drill for over two decades and can only remember seeing one true flow segment and that was when I marched in high school back in the early 80s. My teammate, Russell Fryman, created an amazing unarmed routine that had large segments of flow using his arms and footwork that I have not seen duplicated since. I wish we would have recorded his performances!

2. Horizontal Flow. The second definition takes the whole routine into account.

Logical progression best describes Routine Flow. This is when there are smooth transitions between segments of drill. This flow is from the beginning to the end of the routine encompassing all movement, body and equipment.

Watch any routine and pay specific attention as to how segments fit together. This can be difficult because it is normal for us to only react to a performance in the form of liking or disliking it. You have to train yourself to not be entertained and react to those feelings (probably 90% or more of how drill has been judged for decades) and look further into the performance. Try it with this video:

exhibition drill, rifle drill, jrotc, drill team, rifle team, armed drill, rifle spinning

For Officer R. Orlando

Sir,

I keep getting returns for the emails I send to the address you gave me. Here is what I have:

I called Marlow White, unhelpful. Called Bates, they searched through their inventory and did not find what you need.
Here are some possibilities. You may have to go with a standard leather oxford and shine them to a high gloss. I have an article, Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them, that gives you different options.

http://wideshoes.com/catalog.cfm?page=mens-street-and-dress_classic-styles_leather-sole-oxfords

This is a great site, for $119 you can custom make your shoes. Standard leather, though. http://www.itailorshoes.com/
Sorry that I couldn’t get you exactly what you need.

Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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