Follow The DrillMaster on Periscope!

I teach in various locations around the United States of America and with the advent of Periscope, the application for smart phones, I can now share live training moments when working with law enforcement, firefighters, EMS and cadets!

Download the free app from your phone’s store and start watching. Broadcasts begin the first week of August 2015 at the Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy!

DrillMaster Periscope

The Firefighter’s Ceremonial Axe Manual

See also the article, Resistance to Change: Betrayal?, for some insight that may help dealing with this sometimes rather touchy issue.
Fire-Axe-Nomenclature

Why an axe manual in the first place?
Firefighter honor guard units use two of their tools as ceremonial equipment that are normally used to fight fires. When I first began writing my book, The Honor Guard Manual, I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible and thought that I should include law enforcement and firefighters. Law enforcement units use rifles the same as that military honor guard units. They also use shotguns sometimes. But firefighters- hold the phone!

The conversation I had with myself when something like this: “What in the world? Let me zoom in on that picture of the firefighter color team. Hey, they’re holding shiny axes! And what are those staffs with point and a little hook?” Time to visit a fire station and get some hands-on training. I went to the Spangdahlem Air Base (my wife was stationed there- I had already retired but was an active member of the Base Honor Guard, probably the only retiree to do that) fire station and was given a tour and explanation of the ax and pike pole and the loan of a real fire ax. The Airmen there were great and I so appreciated the time they took with me, from the Senior Master Sgt to the Senior Airman, they could not have been more pleased to have someone take an interest in the tools of their trade.

I took the fire ax home and began creating a manual of arms that I hoped would mirror the honor guard manual of arms for the rifle for a color team. I took pictures of myself with a timer on my camera setting it up on the back porch of our home in Germany. I also asked my wife to sit in the middle of our hallway and take many pictures while I posed in several different positions of the developing manual with the fire ax. In steps difficulty at this point.

The issues that I encountered were 1) Safety, there is a pike on the opposite end of the blade (the blade is dull on ceremonial axes, but the pike still comes to a four-sided point) and, 2) Creating a series of “strong” positions.

Right/Left Shoulder
Safety: Port is the position most teams use when marching and it can make the ax guards wish for interchangeable arms during long parades. To my knowledge at that point (2009) no team had used an ax like a rifle and put it on their shoulder. (I have since found one or two pictures of firefighter color teams with axes on their shoulders- the same way I created, which gave me validation.) I really wanted to use a shoulder position to provide a relatively restful position, especially when using a real fire ax with a heavy head. To do this and to maintain a safe and ceremonial image, I could not put the ax handle on my shoulder with the ax head next to my ear. That position looked “weak” and actually, a little dorky. It also created the problem of moving the pick near my head, about which I was not all that enthused.

Port and Present Arms
Weakness“: My second concern was positions that may look “weak” or “non-ceremonial” even in transition. When you bring a rifle from Order to Port, the movements are straight forward: you bring the rifle across the torso and then move the right hand to the small of the stock. When trying to mimic this movement for the fire ax, keep in mind that the hand is on top of the ax head and as you bring it across the torso, you must bend the right wrist creating a “weak” movement/position. Or, when at Present Arms and both hands are flared to the front with just the thumbs holding the handle- it does not present a “strong” image.

Rejection!
I have seen firefighters perform several of the positions of an ax manual of arms, positions that I eventually flat rejected for the reasons stated above. I didn’t just play around with an ax for a few minutes and settle on whatever came to mind, the ceremonial manual that I created took weeks of hard work of hands-on time with the ax, bouncing ideas off of my wife and then also firefighter Mark Zamora who played an integral part in the revision of the manual that I first developed with which I was not happy. Mark’s expertise as a firefighter and a member of his department’s honor guard was crucial in the manual positions that are in my book and in the video at the bottom of this article.

Here is the manual that I created which is explained extensively in my book:

 

The JROTC “Feeder” Program

Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy

If your JROTC unit does not have a plan on how to recruit at the local elementary schools that feed your high school, then you need to implement a strategy this school year!

JROTC programs need cadets, that we know. If 8th-grade students are unaware of the benefits of JROTC (leadership, organization skills, drill team, etc.), then those students will probably not sign up for JROTC. One of my favorite sayings is, “Education is key!” Applying that phrase to this situation means that you, as a cadet, can help ensure that 8th-graders are aware of JROTC and how it can impact their life whether they join the military or not. But, how do you do this? I’m glad you asked.

Self-promotion is a leadership and political skill that is critical to master in order to navigate the realities of the workplace and position you for success.”
― Bonnie Marcus

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion
I am not talking about telling everyone how wonderful you are or how amazing your units is. That is not the point. The point is to help students understand how much fun they can have and all of the different things they can learn just by being in the program.

Create a team that has can visit different places (schools, community events) that sets up a table with flyers with information and a tri-fold display board complete with pictures of cadets in all of the different activities.

During the high school open house, ensure that the PT, drill and rocketry teams all get a chance to show off their skills. Have the color guard present the colors to begin the night.

  • Raiders– run to the elementary school and do PT with the students.
  • Drill Team and Color Guard– perform at the school. March in as many parades as possible.
  • Reveille or Retreat– perform for the cadets in all of the different ways that you can.

Note: You must ensure students and their parents are fully aware that JROTC does not come with a commitment to the military. Junior ROTC is a citizen building program only, about 55%-60% of cadets join the military either by directly enlisting or by attending college and commissioning.

Your JROTC unit needs to be prepared and the Public Affairs cadet(s) should put all of this into motion in conjunction with the team commanders. Educate the incoming students and the people living near the school by putting your best foot forward.

Saint Louis High AJROTC in Trouble?

Yes, another JROTC unit is in serious trouble. This time it seems to be a burocratic position with a financial excuse, but no one really knows exactly . (Also read: The Hatred of JROTC.)

Cadets who attended JROTC units around the world can provide anecdotal evidence as to how the program and moreover, the instructors, played a key role in learning life lessons. We, in the Military Drill World, know what it’s all about: citizenship, leadership, followership, accountability, teamwork and a myriad of other qualities that cadets learn from just attending classes or stepping up and volunteering for the extra-curricular activities: drill team, color guard, Raiders, rocketry, PT, academics, etc. Just like the music programs under attack, JROTC is irreplaceable.

Saint Louis CrusadersWhile Mission High Schools AJROTC unit had a problem with finding instructors, the Saint Louis Crusader Battalion of Honolulu, Hawaii is in danger of closing supposedly due to funds. Two former cadets set up a Facebook page to help organize the fight against the shutdown and are urging everyone to use the hashtag, ‪#‎SaveSLSBattion‬.

SaintLouis High AJROTC instructors, First Sergeant Akuna and Chief Warrant Officer Philips, have been taking freshman kids and turning them into young men and women for many years now.

The following is what I have been able to obtain from one of the cadets (C/SFC Dillon Wong):

“The cadets were informed of the cut on July 8th by Chief Philips when he sent out an email of our newest [school board] president’s, Dr. Glen Mederios, letter. The letter informed us that the JROTC program was being replaced by a Civil Air Patrol program because it was significantly cheaper. The next day, July 9, some of the cadets from the ranger platoon went to the school to see if we could save the program. When we arrived, 1SG was already starting to clean out the battalion of all of its contents. He explained to us what had happened and that he would be forced to retire. Our cadet commander, Jared Castaneda was able to arrange a meeting with Dr. Mederios that day so, Jared, our S5 assistant, Aaron Hasimoto, and I went to meet with our president.

“In the meeting we asked several questions. The most important was Jared asking why we were informed so late in the summer. The response of Dr. Mederios shocked us all. His exact words were, ‘Well, the reason for the late notice is that, if I informed the parents and the teachers of this cut earlier, it would give hope to trying to raise the money. When looking at these numbers, you can see it is a hopeless effort.’ Naturally our next question was how much money did the program cost. At first, he told us that the JROTC program costs over $200,000 dollars. Then he changed it to $175,000. He then said CAP would costmuch less, just $25,000. The only concern I have about this is that CAP is a government-funded cadet program with volunteers as instructors. This came straight from our Dr. Mederios and told us that he is only paying them so that they come to Saint Louis every day after school with no exceptions.

“After our meeting we informed the rest of the cadets who came and most of them were worried about joining CAP or joining the Punahou Battalion. I thought that this is the wrong way to go and that saving the battalion is possible. Cadet Captain Erica Bantolina and Cadet Sergeant Maybelle Lee, my two good friends, shared my thoughts and together we started this cause. Our first action was creating the Facebook page to first see if people would be interested in helping us. After about 200 likes, we decided to go through with this. We originally posted that the cost of saving the program was $175,000 but then removed it after being called by Chief Philips saying that the amount was incorrect.

“Our next action was finding a person who would be our financial advisor and see if they could talk to Dr. Mederios. We were able to contact the father of an alumni from the JROTC program who is another good friend of ours. Without hesitation, he agreed and worked vigorously to set up a meeting. We also contacted the former board president, Judge Kirimitsu, since he encouraged and supported our program throughout his years. They met with Dr. Mederios yesterday, July 10th, and were able to get the go-ahead to collect the money. We also found out that the actual cost to keep the program alive was $90,000.

“We have two major donors ready to give us money once we have an account set up so that we do not run into any legal problems. Our first donor is a 2010 alumni named Dee Soliman who was the BC (Battalion Commander, a cadet) for the JROTC program. He has created an account on gofundme.com to collect money. I contacted him and he has given us his full consent of overseeing the account and receiving the money once he has reached his quota of 10,000 dollars. Our second donor is Eugene Hong who was also a program alumnus. The reason he is so passionate of saving this program is because his senior year was 1SG Akuna’s first year of service at the school. I have already informed him that we cannot accept any money until we have an account set up. I plan on contacting the Saint Louis Alumni Association and another major donor, Clarence TC Ching, who recently gave a generous donation to construct our new schol gym.

“This is where we stand now and plan on collecting the money by next week. We do not want to post anything on our page about the actual amount of 90,000 dollars and that we were given the right to collect the money because we do not want people asking us where to send the money. Once we set up a money collecting account, we will release the information.

“Thank you again for giving us the time out of you day to listen to our situation, Mr. Marshall, you do not know how much this means to us.”

#drillstrong, the Fundraising Competition

#drillstrong, the Fundraising Competition

DrillStrongFollowing For the Art (FTA) Clothing Company’s lead.

A member of the Military Drill World (MDW) is in serious need. Constantine Wilson created New Guard America many years ago with the goal of having the first professional civilian-based exhibition drill team that performs with bayonets. He did it and NGA has toured the world with performances all over the USA, Europe and Africa.

Constantine and I met at New Mexico Military Institute in the mid 80s. After we left the school, we lost touch only to have exhibition drill bring us back together in 2006 when I began my groundwork for The DrillMaster. We eventually worked on Pro America together creating some great competitions. And there are all kinds of stories that many, many Drillers can share about how he has impacted their life, either directly or indirectly.

New Guard AMerica 2013

Constantine needs help. Diagnosed with cancer in 2013, he has been fighting it with unconventional therapies that have worked- until now. He is going to begin conventional therapy soon, if he has not already, and that is where you and I come in. FTA started the ball rolling with the sale of the really cool glow-in-the-dark #drillstrong rubber wrist bands and that is a great beginning. We can do more and we will. What do we, in the MDW, do best? Compete!

#drillstrong is the competition. It will be similar to Pro America, but with additions. No entry fee, but donations will be accepted by competitors and audience members. I hope to enlist help from others in the MDW and make this a spectacular annual fundraising event. When Constantine heals, we can turn our focus onto other needs for a fellow MDW member. Right now, all I have is ideas and will make phone calls and send emails to those whom I think can help in certain ways. I want to record the competition, create a DVD and offer it for sale with 100% of the profit going to the cause.

If you have something to offer for the competition (video or audio setup skills, DVD creation knowledge, etc.) please contact me by clicking here and sending me a message. Let’s get started.

God bless you, Constantine. #drillstrong

The Terror of the Dropped Rifle

See these related articles: How Drops Affect Scoring & Learning to Drop.

woman-screamingSalute!
Imagine this: you are a judge at a JROTC competition assigned to judge one of the exhibition drill categories. During a performance, a cadet drops his rifle, comes to attention, salutes the rifle, picks it up and continues on with the performance. The “Face-Palm” action would be inappropriate in this situation.

Saluting a dropped rifle has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. There is no reason for it and, to me, makes the Driller look less than intelligent.

It was started decades ago as a way to make a cadet who dropped, look silly. The embarrassment was meant to help you not drop- which it never did. It’s absolutely ridiculous to salute a dropped rifle. When you do, you are telling everyone, “Hey, I just dropped the rifle and I’m not going to try to minimize the effect that the drop has on my performance. I’m going to look stupid and salute an inanimate object.”

IMG_2386What if (see the picture at right) the cadet picks up the rifle, brings it to the Order position and brings his left hand across for a salute? No, this isn’t any good either! This is not a salute for the rifle it is a salute that the Marine Corps and Navy still execute when at Order. It is one of three different salutes rendered between individuals when at Order or either Shoulder position. The Army ceased performing these salutes many years ago.

“Mutual respect”
Between the rifle and the Driller. [Buzzer sound] Wrong- thanks for playing! Respect is between people, respect from a rifle is impossible.

You will not find any kind of guidance like what you have read here in any military manual. Yes, you will be taught to fully respect your equipment, including your rifle, when in the military- that is a must. Your life and the lives of others depends on how well you take care of your equipment at personal and unit level. That is a completely different context, one that is not applicable to JROTC. After all the rifle with which you drill will not save your life- even if it is a Demil.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter whether you are practicing or performing, never salute a dropped rifle.

Christian Flag over American Flag?

Christian over American FlagYes. On church grounds, inside or out, the Christian flag can be flown above the American during services.

Here is the link to the interview of the pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church.

Click here to read other posts with the tag, flag etiquette.

THe following is an excerpt from my book, The Honor Guard Manual.

MYTH

“Nothing can be above the American flag.” Part II

The only flag that may be flown above or to the right of the American flag is… The Christian flag.

  • American Law: The Bill of Rights, Article 1, The Constitution of the United States: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
  • The United States Navy: During the Service of Divine Worship led by the Fleet Chaplain, a triangular Pennant of White with a blue Latin cross is flown at the masthead above the American flag.
  • The State of California: Excerpted from Stars, Stripes and Statues, National Flag Foundation, p. 66, item 2. No flag or pennant shall be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of, the United States flag, except flags flown during church services.

The Code for the Christian Flag

  1. When the Christian flag is on the floor level, the Christian flag is placed to the right, front, of the congregation and outside of the communion railing.
  2. When the Christian flag is placed within the chancel, communion railing or choir loft, it is placed to the right side of the altar, of the clergymen, and of the choir as they face the congregation.
  3. When the Christian flag is displayed with the American flag and/or other flags:
    1. The American flag and/or other flags may be placed symmetrically on the opposite side of the sanctuary and on the same level as the Christian flag.
    2. If desired, it is also proper to place the Christian and national flags side-by-side wherever stationed in the church, thus symbolizing both the spiritual and patriotic loyalties of the congregation.
    3. When the flags are placed side-by-side, the Christian flag is always stationed on the right of all other flags.
    4. The Christian flag never dips to any other flag. It may properly dip to the altar Cross.
  4. Use of the Christian flag in other situations:
    1. Where a Cross is carried in a processional, the Cross leads, followed by the Christian flag.
    2. In a single-column processional, the Christian flag precedes all other flags.
    3. In a double-column processional, the Christian flag is on the right.
    4. When the Christian flag is on the same flagpole with any other flag, the Christian flag receives the top position.
    5. Where the Christian flag and another flag are on separate poles, the Christian flag is on the right as it faces the street or audience.
    6. In placing the Christian flag staff in its supporting base, it should be adjusted so that the blue canton and Cross are turned toward the congregation.
    7. No other symbol or flag should ever be placed above the Cross.

Christian Flag Code information courtesy of: www.steve4u.com/christian/facts.htm

How to Teach Exhibition Drill

You may not “know the drill”…

If you have my books, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team, Vols I & II, you probably have an idea of the process of writing drill, (here is a simple “Boxes of Three” method for creating drill) but might not understand the application of taking what has been written on a DrillMaster Routine Mapping Tool (RMT, available for download here)  and then having your team actually march what was designed. The key to this is the grid that I developed and put on each of the RMTs. This helps us translate what is on paper to what is on the drill deck.

How to Write Drill

Read Here to learn the Eight Things Every Driller Needs.

Cones for Drill (2)Cones

Painting a giant grid on a parking lot at your school is not necessary, but you can do it. It is just as easy to create the, in this case platoon/flight, drill deck by using cones. When I teach, I use small cones that are designed for sports and if they get stepped on or run over, they just pop right up.

On the Drill Team (100′ X 100′) RMT, there are numbers across the bottom of the grid (1-20) and letters going up the left side (A-U). You will want to identify your cones with the same numbers and letters. You can use cones that are all the same color or, you can color-code certain areas of the drill pad to show where the “Power Section”.

Lay out your cones in a large L-shape. If you choose to use the color coding, you can lay the cones out like in this picture, below. The red ones on the side are a little difficult to see and I did not lay out all of the cones, but this is the general idea.

Cones for Drill (1)

Before the team goes out onto your practice area with the new cones laid out, go over the routine’s drill sets (each page is called a “set”) with the team so they have a general familiarity of what is happening. Now, go to the field and begin setting the team up to enter (read this article about The Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine).

Once at the entrance, being to set everyone up in their positions of the first set, march it a couple times. If an armed team, learn the drill unarmed first, then add the equipment (rifle, guidon, sword/saber). If unarmed, learn the drill first and add the body work (hand, arm, head torso, leg and foot work). If only the drill is written and the equipment/body work needs to be added to each page, as you create the equipment work, write it down.

Continue to learn each set learning the drill first, and then layering over it body movement and/or equipment

Are you a soloist, tandem, squad/element? The same applies to you.

How to Create a Tetrad (Four-Man Team) Exhibition Performance

The Tetrad
Drill teams come in all sizes for different reasons. Teams can range in size from nine to twenty five members with or without a commander marching outside of the formation. A tetrad, the shorter name for a four- or five-man exhibition drill team, creates a performance for small areas like a ballroom dance floor or on a stage.

Why a tetrad?
If your unit already has an unarmed, armed, one or more tandem (two Drillers) and soloists, why have yet another team especially if the team cannot compete (no category at local meets)? The answer is that the tetrad team is the perfect “portable” size. Does your school visit the local elementary and middle schools and perform for the students? You should. You need to advertise JROTC and give younger children an opportunity to see

There are specifics that a tetrad can follow for competitions (click here) or the team can design a routine that is specifically for entertaining an audience during a formal dinner.

The following diagrams are an example of what a tetrad can do. It will give you an idea of what your team may want to do.

The Progression of a Tetrad performance
You can use the following description or modify it to suit your needs.

1. The Entrance

If your team has five members (the fifth is the commander, usually armed with a sword/saber), the commander to enter at the head of the team, or even before the team, with the team following as soon as the commander posts at his/her spot.

You will probably want the team to enter and encircle the commander. The whole team would then look like the 5-side of a die, like this.

Tetrad 1

You may want to have your team enter so that they are all facing center like this.

Tetrad 2

2. Close-in Drill

Here the team’s rifle movements need to be very conservative since you are in close quarters. Rifle movement should be constrained to spinning and short exchanges (Port, Leaning, etc.)

Note: Numbers two and three can be reversed, starting farther away from the commander and then stepping in closer.

3. The Step Back

Now, the team can be a little more open to rifle movement with more exaggerated spins, tosses and bigger exchanges (Shoulder, Ground, etc.).

Tetrad 3

4. If you have room…

You can depart from the usual formation and work into and from a single-file line (column) like this.

Tetrad 4

5. Introductions

Prior to leaving, whether you execute number 4 or not, it’s a good idea to come forward in a single-file line for individual introductions. With the introductions, each member, commander last, can step forward, perform a “signature move” and then step back into line.

Tetrad 5

6. The Departure

The team can face toward their exit point and march off without performing anything else, or they can give the audience one last team move to wow the crowd and leave them wanting more.

Resistance to Change: Betrayal?

DSC_0443_963x2559I felt the need to follow up the article that published last week, Resistance to Change: The Five Monkeys Syndrome.

My help is sought out on a consistent basis from high school and college drill teams and also first responder honor guard units. I teach courses and, when asked, also give free advice over the phone, through email or on videos on any subject in the Military Drill World.

The picture at right is from my book, The Honor Guard Manual, I purposefully did not wear gloves for the pictures so that readers could see the exact positioning of my hands and fingers.

I also give advice to many others even when they don’t ask. Those results are 80%-20%. The 80% is people receive the advice in a positive manner, the 20% is the opposite. I don’t know if those numbers are exact, I haven’t accomplished a scientific study, it’s a guess, really- most people do receive the advice very well and sometimes it leads to a great conversation and then…

Not long ago, I had a brief conversation on one of my social media accounts with an individual. He was nice enough but presented the argument of, “We like the way we do what we do.” It was a small issue really, but one that I felt needed to be fleshed out, I don’t want anyone in the honor guard community to not look as professional as possible.

How the conversation went:

Indiv: So, we need to change just because you say so?

DM: No, not at all, just want you to be as professional as possible.

Indiv: That’s your opinion.

DM: That’s right and it is based on over 25 years of experience.

Indiv: There is more than one way to render honors.

DM: True and sometimes there is a better way.

Indiv: There is a nice way to approach it.

DM: And what way would that be? Advice can be seen as an attack. People are trained a certain way and feel it is best. Another says there is a better, sharper way and the person feels if he changes or even agrees he is betraying his trainers.

A national standard did not exist for first responder honor guard units until I published my book, The Honor Guard Manual, in 2011. Who am I to establish a national standard? I am just a guy who saw the need, that’s all. No one is forced to adopt every single movement described in the manual; the manual is there for use and if a team chooses to use all, some or none of it, that is completely up to them, it doesn’t bother me. I will always make suggestions, however, and whether those suggestions are adopted or not, is not my concern.

Besides the, “Well, that’s the way we have always done it” mentality, a sense of betrayal is why some changes will never be made, for the better in my opinion, for some teams. And that’s too bad.

Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

%d bloggers like this: