The “Savard Manual” or “Savards”

Al Savard Tomb Guard Mirror
Al Savard before stepping out onto the plaza c. 1956

A short time ago, Leslie Savard Hamud sent a question to me through my facebook page, The Honor Guard Manual. To me, the question a little cryptic and out of left field- but I really enjoy left field questions! Here is how the conversation went:

Leslie: Hello, I am the daughter of Al Savard and my dad is a proud man so we do not hear much of the honor guard. I would love some information of the Savard Manual if anyone could share with me this I would be grateful. I’m very proud of my dad and the man he is. Thank you for all that you have done for our country we have many people and blessings to be grateful for.

DrillMaster: Unfortunately, I do not know anything about a Savard Manual and cannot find any information on it. If you can point me in the right direction, I may be able to obtain something for you. Us the manual for honor guard units? Is geared toward the military, law enforcement, firefighters, or fraternal organizations?

Al Savard Tomb Guard
Al Avard as a Tomb Guard c. 1956

Leslie: My dad was stationed at the Tumb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington DC around 1956 and he has apparently created a maneuver and it is referred to as the Savard Manual or close to this. Thank You for your time I appreciate it.

DM: Oh, I see! Alright, I’ll check into this. I’m thinking that what your father created is a process for the Tomb Guard to manipulate the rifle, what we call a “manual”, as in the manual of arms. I’ll get back to you!

This was the information I needed! I posted a question on the Facebook page, The Old Guard (TOG) asking for any available information on some sort of printed manual. A couple of TOG members told me that nothing is written, the manuals are handed down to the next generation. Another TOG member gave me Mr. Savard’s page on Tombguard.org. He is listed as a Founding Father for the Tomb Guard Society and was possible one of a team of Soldiers, or maybe even “the one”, who developed the manuals that the Sentinels and Drill Team use to this day with modifications here and there.

I passed the information on to Leslie and asked if I could write an article and if Leslie had some pictures of her father.

Leslie: Wow Thank You you have pulled up a lot of information. What does Founding Father mean in terms of the guard? I will see if I can find an old picture of him at the Tomb that would be great and such an honor to him. I really appreciate your time.

I still needed more information and thought I might turn to  a friend of mine who was a previous senior soloist on the Old Guard, Andres Ryan. Here is where the final puzzle pieces fell into place!

Al Savard Drill Team
Al Savard and the US Army Drill Team c. 1956

DM: Andres, do you know of a Savard Manual?

Andres: Yes, there is a Savard and a Hidden Savard. It’s a transition maneuver that takes you from either Order to a Prep Position for the 1.5 throw, or the Hidden Savard that takes you to the Inverted Carry. These are Army Drill Team maneuvers. Actually, one of those tricks you have to learn during the Annual Training Cycle . It’s kinda tricky. You would have to watch it in slow motion a lot to actually understand what’s going on because its like a Half Spin-Out and then Half Spin-In right when you reach Full Extension. The technique is something we referred to as “Playing the Fiddle”.

DM: Mr. Savard was a Sentinel, why does the Drill Team use his moves?

Andres: Back then, the Tomb Sentinels all marched on the Drill Team, that was the standard in those days. I don’t know if he made the technique but its really cool if that’s the legacy he left. One of those moves takes forever to wrap your head around in the Cycle.

Thank you Ryan and the others who had a hand in finding the answer for the proud daughter of a US Army Soldier.

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