The Vanguard (Taiwan) Honor Guard (Exhibition Drill Team) – YouTube


Check out my friends on the Vanguard (Taiwan) Honor Guard! They are learning quite a bit of American-styled drill and incorporating it into their routines. I’m very proud to call them my friends.


In Asian countries a drill team is called an honor guard.

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The United States Air Honor Guard

What Is The Basic Story On Why We Need The US Air Honor Guard?

First of all, there is NO CURRENT organization doing what we are proposing to do – NONE;Secondly, the US Armed Forces only provides basic escort personnel during the trip home for deceased personnel.  That’s all, nothing more.Budget cuts and the limited scope of military operations virtually guarantees that only basic honor guard services are provided.  This leaves a lot of honor guard services and family / community support needs unfulfilled and incomplete;The US Armed Forces DO NOT provide honor guard services for units and personnel returning home from deployment – WE WILL;Even though flight restrictions have been lifted for fighter jet over flights, budget cuts and limited resources ensures that the likelihood of fighter jet over flights remains VERY LOW to non-existent;What Role Will The US Air Honor Guard Provide For America? There is no service organization that is positioned to fulfill this extreme need;We will provide Community-Wide fighter jet over flights ahead of the arrival of the honor guard flight carrying deceased personnel and arriving units / personnel returning home from deployment.  These over flights are intended to announce the arrival of these personnel and units;We will provide escort vehicles equipped with emergency lights and sirens, and uniquely marked, to escort the casket or personnel home or to a reception facility;We will provide continuous fly overs along the parade route and formation fly overs for the closing ceremony, whatever type that is;We will provide high ranking military officials to participate in honor guard activities and to coordinate activities, inter-agency cooperation and to engage in media relations activities;We will provide centralized coordination services with local and state private services organizations to facilitate a unified consistent honor guard protocol;We will provide professionally coordinated Media Relations campaigns, complete with interviews and news reports, press releases, social media  and other venues;We will coordinate with local police and fire departments to obtain their assistance in arranging parade routes, escort routes, traffic control and to use fire department equipment to hang large flags, banners and other appropriate decor along the travel / parade route(s);We will provide high level professional SECURITY for the families and personnel we are escorting, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement to ensure the safety of participants and bystanders alike;We will provide support services for the families of the deceased, and coordinate with local service organizations and government agencies for psychological and pastoral support;For the families, individuals, units and communities we serve we will create high quality multimedia presentations and photography to record the event.

Should Any Of This Matter To Me?

Yes, every American is affected by our national mood and national state of mind.  Our economy, our communities and our national conversations are all deeply affected by these factors.  Thus, we have something else we want to address to help fix our nation for the next generation – here is what we have observed:.

Pride in America has faltered in recent years;Confidence in America has faltered, as well;American morale has suffered and faltered;The morale of our troops is suffering and faltering;The traditions and positive community influence of our Armed Forces have been sharply reduced nationwide;Most of our American media does not really respect our military personnel;Most of our American media will not provide adequate news coverage for our returning veterans and those killed in action ON THEIR OWN.  They just will not do it without external leadership and pressure.

We want to fix these issues and we will do so, if we get our legislation passed (unchanged) through your support and letters to your Federal Representatives, asking them to pass the US Air Honor Guard legislation


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Putting Things into Perspective

“We won!”

Those words are great to hear and sometimes even better to yell. I knew the feeling of “winning” at drill meets throughout my four years of high school AFJROTC; my team swept every meet and so did I as the team’s commander for my last two years. It was hard work, fun and I learned quite a bit. But what did we really “win”?

I went to Agua Fria Union High School in Avondale, AZ (’79-’83) and our most intense rival school was a MCJROTC unit from Tolleson High School. Our unarmed teams were always neck-and-neck. It was a good rivalry and kept us on our toes the whole school year. The other schools in the Phoenix and surrounding areas attended most of the same meets that we did. The only school to come close was our rival that I mentioned above, the other schools always came in behind us. Our instructors (CMSgt Broomhead- not making that up- and Lt Col Lorenz) always had some great music waiting for us on the bus ride home and we would sing/yell the words to We are the Champions by Queen and Celebration by Kool and the Gang.

Then we went to the Southern California Drill Meet and had an attitude adjustment. I think we took home a third place trophy in one of the phases of the competition. We left dejected, but guess what our Chief did? He had the same music waiting for us on the bus? “But, we were ‘losers'”, we thought. We were never “losers” in the sense that the world sees it. We practiced for two hours every day after school all through the school year and even had some Saturday practices thrown in. When we went to SCIDM, we entered a competitive area to which we had not been exposed and we learned great lessons from that experience and applied those lessons to our training so that we could be a better team than before.

The same goes for you and your team. I am very happy for teams and cadets that post pictures on Twitter and Instagram showing off their trophies. The same goes for the teams that post pictures after a competition without a single trophy, but smiles all round. You did it, you both “won”! Kudos to you!

Drill Team

Picture from Twitter

Now let me explain how to put things into perspective.

The world is all about “winners”. Ricky Bobby’s father said, “You’re either first or you’re last”, as he drove away in that silly movie Taladega Nights. But later on, he made the comment that he had been wrong in his thinking. Now, I’m not suggesting taking meaningful life lessons from every movie that you can watch, but sometimes there are very pertinent ideas that can come across. Sometimes.  But his second statement later on in the movie was absolutely right on the mark of truth: there is no such thing as, “first or last”. Competition is great and it is meant to, as I wrote earlier, keep you on your toes.

You are meant to keep training, keep studying and be the best that you can be. THAT is winning. Getting up early to exercise and get in some extra practice. THAT is winning. Paying attention when you are practicing regulation drill for the millionth time. THAT is winning. Not losing your cool when training new cadets who just can’t seem to figure out that you pivot on the left foot for a right flank. THAT is winning. Not getting angry, not throwing your rifle when you still can’t get that Hawaiian Punch. THAT is winning. Knowing that you did your very best in a performance and, “leaving it all on the drill deck”. THAT is winning.

You don’t need a trophy or ribbon to know that you are already a winner when you are going that extra mile and if that is all you are going for, then there is something missing in your approach to the what the World Drill Association calls, the Sport of Military Drill.

Don’t fall into the trap that society tells you: “You’re either first, or last.” It’s a lie. Everyday accomplishments make you a “winner”.

Now, go practice.

The 22 March 15 Michigan Online Drill Competition Results!

Yet another military drill season is upon us and the videos were submitted by midnight Eastern time on March 21, 2015. I have judged each Michigan Online Drill Competition (MIODC) and have learned as well as taught with each successive competition.

My thanks to Devin Milhem for creating and running this event. For more information on MIODC see the Facebook group.

Here is the link to watch the playlist of YouTube videos. On with the results. I commented on the World Drill Association’s Overall Effect caption (OE; there are three more captions: Movement, Equipment and Composition Analysis). Since I only scored OE, the score is out of a possible max of 200. If I were to score all four captions, there is a formula to give a final score out of a possible 100 points- just like grades in school.

In ech WDA caption there i a further breakdown of scores between the “What” and the “How”. You will notice that, while a Driller’s total score may have placed him higher than another, he may have one of the sub-caption scores lower then other Driller(s) whose score was overall lower.

I am on the road having just finished judging the Romeoville High School Drill Meet yesterday. I apologize that I do not have the time to offer a full four-caption score. I did make some comments though pertaining to the other captions.

Below you will see the soloist’s placement, name and then the scores for Repertoire Effect score (the “What”), Performance Effect (the “How”) score and the total score. Click on the name to download the DrillMaster Audio Performance Critique.

  1. Bisher, 66-57-123
  2. Milhem, 60-53-113
  3. Alejandro, 57-55-112
  4. Gill, 54-51-105
  5. Ansboro ACUs, 49-43-92
  6. Perrault, 46-39-85
  7. Josh, 43-34-77
  8. Jon, 41-35-76
  9. Daniel, 31-26-57
  10. Doyle, 26-25-51
  11. RetributionGM, 27-23-50
  12. Ansboro Class B, 21-19-40

Thank you, Drillers. You all did an outstanding job. My hope is that my critiques benefit you in your growth in exhibition drill.

Romeoville High School JROTC Drill Meet

Yes, I did. I drove from Melbourne, FL to Romeoville, IL to judge a drill meet. Seriously. I love to do what I do and Don Dunning asked me if I would come up and judge about a week and a half before the competition. My answer: “Sure!” And now it’s over with, but it was such a great day!

I was blessed to judge colors and then tandems. I made my DrillMaster Audio Performance Critiques for each of the performances and let everyone know they could download them. When I first began judging in the morning, I received some strange looks; “We thought you were talking to yourself!” was the feedback I received while I was giving my feedback! Once I explained, I saw nods of approval.

So, without further unnecessary typing, here are my critiques in no particular order.

Color Guard Regulation Drill

Tandem Exhibition Drill Performances

Unarmed XD Squad (I wanted to give the cadets some feedback)

Following the Army’s Drill Manual for all Services

MacAruther Color Guard Dipping Cased ColorThe JROTC units from the Marines, Navy Air Force, and Coast Guard all have something in common- they all have to follow the Army Drill and Ceremonies Manual, Training Circular (TC) 3-21.5 at some point for competition. But where does MCOP 5060.20 and  AFM 36-2203 end and the TC begin? Good question! Let’s explore this.

One thing before we begin, you don’t dip a cased color. Just like you don’t salute a cased color. It’s cased, put away.

If you are in Army JROTC, you don’t need to know any of the following, although it may be interesting.

Competitive Color Guard

For the colors sequence that has the team uncase and then case the colors, there are some Army movements and some service movements (from the MCOP or AFM) that teams follow. That may sound confusing, but let’s look at the sequence and break it down move-by-move to see what we are talking about, specifically.

A= Army
M= Marines, Navy and Coast Guard
AF= Air Force


A- Color bearers, right hand in front of mouth grasping staff, left hand on harness cup/socket. Guards at Right Shoulder
M- Add Ready, Cut. Guards at outboard shoulder. Left hand on staff directly underneath right hand only if windy.
AF- Color bearers right hand on staff at shoulder level, attention and marching have left arm at side, not on harness cup/socket. There isn’t a command in the AFM for this, however. Left hand on harness cup/socket only if windy. Guards at Right Shoulder.


A- Guards have arm swing, team marches at Close Interval (6″).
M- Come shoulder-to-shoulder, no arm swing.
AF- All have arm swing, team marches at Close Interval (6″).


All services follow the TC


A/AF- Follow TC
M- Split to Close Interval.


A/AF- Follow TC in technique as closely as possible, but there isn’t a standard set in the manual to go from Right Shoulder to Sling.
M- Follow MCOP in technique as closely as possible, but there isn’t a standard set in the manual to go from Right Shoulder to Sling.


All services’ rifle guards follow the TC. For the color bearers, the technique used to bring the staff to horizontal must match your service’s guidon salute technique! This means M must bring the staff to Order (no trim/strip) and bring it up to horizontal and A/AF must follow their arm and hand positions as outlined in their manuals.


A/AF- Follow TC.
M- Follow MCOP.

11. POST

A/AF- Follow TC.
M- Follow MCOP in technique for guards.


Read here for an idea of what to say.



A/AF- Follow TC.
M- Follow MCOP

16. LEFT WHEEL (Fwd)

All services follow the TC


A/AF- Follow TC.
M- Follow MCOP.

18. HALT

A/AF- Follow TC
M- Split to Close Interval.


A/AF- Follow TC
M- Follow MCOP to include trimming/stripping the colors).


All services follow their manual.

Next the team is called to attention and the sequence continues. I think you get the idea of what is going on. There are little subtleties that each service must identify as their own and stick to them. One subtlety is Mark Time. Each service has a slightly different explanation as to how to execute this movement:

A- Toes come two inches off the marching surface.
M- Toes come two inches and heels four inches off the marching surface.
AF- Toes come four inches off the marching surface.

So, we see that all is not just one or the other. If you are not aware of the nuances, then your team is not performing at its optimal and that’s not a good thing.



“Team Canadia” and Eau Gallie High AFJROTC Compete!

FAA 2015 (4)The Canadian team from Alberta, 2313 South Alberta Light Horse Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, or “Team Canadia” (at right) as they were affectionately referred to, competed at the second annual Florida Air Academy Drill Competition along with Eua Gallie High School’s Air Force JROTC drill team and color guards.

Just two teams competing? Yes. We had six teams on the books, and four schools had to drop due to various issues. We hope to see them all next year, though!

FAA 2015 (5)Eau Gallie did very well and everyone watched the Candian team with awe as they marched and differently and called some “strange” commands. We loved them and all of the cadets exchanged email addresses and Facebook accounts after the awards were handed out. The Canadians won. Go, Team Canadia*!

FAA 2015 (1)Our judges were Army and Marine Recruiters, Melbourne and Rockledge Police and Brevard Fire. We had every service represented from Active Duty to veterans. They did an outstanding job!

The word, “Canadia”, came from one of the judges who let that slip, thought about it and then restated, “Canada!” with just a little embarrassment. It was all good as everyone had a great time.

Here are my DrillMaster Audio Performance Critiques:

Eau Gallie Regulation Drill

2313 SALH Regulation Drill (Parade and 31-Count)

Eau Gallie Exhibition Drill

2313 SALH Exhibition Sequence

Eau Gallie CG 1 Reg

Eau Gallie CG 2 Reg

Feet: Transitioning From and To a 45-degree Angle

The small details (read: Sweat the Small Stuff) are what build up from one tiny aspect to a whole routine and when you pay attention to these small details it helps create greater effect and better communication and team cohesion.

Feet seem to be an afterthought in military drill, but that is changing. In exhibition drill, if you have not coordinated your footwork into the routine along with every other nuance of your performance, you have not completed the design process and it will show. The same goes for regulation drill, but it’s different.

The Open Toe Method
In regulation drill, we stand at Attention and Parade Rest with our feet at a 45-degree angle and when we begin to march… Ah, there is the afterthought!

The Transition
If you have not addressed this with your team, then you probably have some members marching like this (improper):

Feet- No Transition

And then some on your team marching like this (the proper method):

Feet- Transition from 45

If you have variations in how your team members march, that’s not a good thing and no, it is not a personal preference that everyone just has to deal with. There is a proper and improper way to step and halt.

So, why does this happen? Easy, one of my favorite sayings, “Practice make permanent.” What you do in practice you will do in a performance. But what if someone has never practiced marching before, like a first-year cadet in JROTC? Oh, but they have! It’s called, “Walking”. From when you were a little child, each time you walked, you have been practicing marching. If, when walking, your gate takes your feet pointing out or rolling inward or any other kind of improper variation, that is the way they will march. And that goes for walking properly as well.

When I was about  nine-years old or so, my mother noticed that my toes tended to point outward while we were on a walk, “Point your toes straight, John,” was all I needed and I’ve striven to keep them that way ever since. I do, however, have an issue with the muscles in my right hip, they are a little tighter than should be so my right toes angle out just a bit when I am not concentrating on it.

Physical differences, like the muscle issue I mentioned above, are either overcome  or dealt with as they are as there may be a medical issue that inhibits a team member from creating a proper step. The team deals with medical issues and works on improving how someone learned how to walk improperly.

To make the transition from a halt with the feet at a 45-degree angle to pointing forward when marching, simply point the foot of the lead step straight forward and then the foot of the trail step. It seems easy enough, but not everyone does it and you need to make sure your team is fully aware of this.

The Transition Back
While the team is marching, the team will eventually hear the command to halt and that is when the second transition comes into play.

Feet- Transition to 45

Address with your team, the transition from marching with feet pointing straight to halting with feet at a 45-degree angle. Plant the lead foot (left/right) after the command, Halt, at 22.5-degrees to the outside and then bring the trailing foot (right/left) along side the lead foot, heels touching and also at a 22.5-degree angle in the opposite direction of the lead. That is how one halts with one’s feet at a 45-degree angle.

Marking Time
The same transitions go for Mark Time, when either beginning or halting; when marching in place, the feet point forward, when you halt, the lead foot planted, points at 22.5-degrees outward and the trail foot planted then points 22.5-degrees outward in the opposite direction making up 45-degrees.

Feet Together for Exhibition Drill?
You don’t have to concern yourself with any of the information above if your team uses the Closed Toe Method. The Open Toe Method is mandatory in regulation drill, though.

Chief Reserves and Cadets – Video Message June 2014 – YouTube

As the cadet training year draws to a close and cadets from across the country prepare for summer training, I have prepared a video message to share news abo…


Canadian Cadets, all services and all kinds of opportunities. Awesome stuff!

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Military Drill World: March Fourth!

Happy March 4th, or I should say, #MarchFourth, to everyone on a drill team, honor guard, color team, color guard, marching band, drum and bugle corps, winterguard, indoor percussion ensemble- anyone who marches and loves it.

Today is YOUR DAY!

March Fourth


Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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