All posts by DrillMaster

Author, drill designer, marching instructor, trainer for honor guard units, military drill teams, marching bands and drum and bugle corps.

Exhibition Color Guard? Consensus Says it’s OK!

Firefighter Color Guard Axes at Right Shoulder
DrillMaster Honor Guard Academy Graduation Chino Valley Fire 2016 Firefighter Color Guard Axes at Right Shoulder

I cannot even bring myself to insert a picture of a color guard performing exhibition moves. Instead, here is an awesome firefighter color guard, the members of which were trained by yours truly.

Reference: Training Circular 3-21.5; Marine Corps Order P5060.20; AF Manual 36-2203; The Honor Guard Manual

I have heard from several cadets that their color guard has performed exhibition moves while presenting the colors for many VIPs and everyone seemed to be OK with it since the cadets did not hear of any negative feedback. It looks as though we do not need to follow service regulations, instructions, and manuals after all. We just need to decide which ones are not necessary to follow and which ones are.

It’s not about us, it’s about rendering proper respect and honor to the flag.

Or, we could consider an issue with which everyone in each of the armed services is quite familiar. Standards. Let’s consider something innocuous, underwear. When an individual goes through Basic Training/Boot Camp, they are told to either roll or fold everything in their wall/foot locker to a certain size. While I don’t remember what we had to do as college cadets going through six weeks of what was then called Basic Camp, at Ft. Knox, if I remember correctly, all of the members of my flight in Basic at Lackland AFB had to fold our t-shirts and underwear into a six-inch square. Sounds silly, right? It’s not. There are two reasons why this is done: 1. To get you to conform to service requirements; 2. To get you to pay attention to tiny, seemingly insignificant details. These requirements and small details save lives, I’ll give you an example.

Standards Not Maintained
In Germany in the late 1990s, two USAF Staff Sergeants were on trial for possible negligence. They had crossed two metal pieces incorrectly in the wing of an F-15 or F-16 and that incorrect crossover caused the aircraft to crash with the pilot staying in the plane long enough to guide the aircraft away from a village and into a field. The pilot died and the villagers were spared. Inattention to detail and failure to maintain standards. Military standards are written and pictured in many regulations, pamphlets, and instructions. We need to pay attention to both the words and the pictures.

Hidden in Plain Sight (at least for some)
There is a reason one does not see, in person or in a manual, a service color guard spin rifles or do ANYTHING other than what is specifically written in a service drill and ceremonies manual or internal honor guard manual.

There is a reason one does not see, in person or in a manual, a service color guard use swords, sabers, or bayonets (the MCO does specifically bans bayonet use for a color guard).

Consensus means zero when there is a written standard.

Guidance by a negative? While we cannot fully cover what is not acceptable for a color guard, we have the guidance by a positive- what is written and pictured in the Training Circular, Marine Corps Order, and the Air Force Manual (get them here) for the military services and, The Honor Guard Manual, Second Edition, for first responders. What is written and pictured is what we are supposed to do. Period. We do not add to manuals, especially when the goal is to look “cooler”.

Look at and heed the pictures and wording in your service drill and ceremonies manual.

American First Responder Joint Service Order

Is this a “thing”? Possibly, my reasoning for the research and writing this article is to provide information that may be necessary for certain situations for American First Responders.

For the US military, we have our joint service order or military order of precedence:  Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The order is based on the creation of the service and, in the case of the Navy, whether that service was continuous from that date.

For first responders (law enforcement, fire and EMS), there is a similar creation date here in the USA. In my research (wikipedia, unfotunately), I found the following information. Now, I understand that different agencies began in different areas at different times, my focus was on the first instance, the first paid positions in the US for that entity. If you have additional information, please let me know, I welcome it.

For joint service work, the order, in general, is: Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS. This means that a color guard would look like this:

First Responder Joint Service Order
First Responder Joint Service Order

In the image above, you can see:

  • Right/Lead Rifle Guard- Law Enforcement Officer
  • US Flag Bearer- Law Enforcement Officer
  • State Flag Bearer- Law Enforcement Officer or Firefighter
    • In the military joint service color guard, pictured below, the Army has the honor of right rifle guard, carrying the American flag and then the Army flag and then each service flag after that. A state or other flag is never carried. So, my suggestion is to share the wealth, so to speak, for this position.
  • Law Enforcement Flag Bearer- Law Enforcement Officer
  • Firefighter Flag Bearer-  Firefighter
  • EMS Flag Bearer- EMS
  • Left/Trail Axe Guard- Firefighter
Military Joint Service Colors Order
Military Joint Service Colors Order

Here are the dates of inception that I found.

Law Enforcement

  • The first Sheriff, 1626 in NY
  • The first Police 1751 in various cities
  • Marshal 1789 establishment of other federal police (Parks, Mint, etc.) followed
  • Border Patrol, 1924

Firefighting

While people have been fighting fires on their own or with neighbors since there has been things to protect, I found that the first paid firefighters came into existence in 1678. Having said that, I do not want this to be contentious as far as volunteers and paid firefighters.

Emergency Medical Service

The first EMS service came into existence in 1865.

 

Firefighter Uniform for the Funeral Procession

I constantly receive questions on here my website and on my social media accounts. I also belong to a couple of Facebook first responder groups where drill and ceremonies and honor guard questions are posted from time-to-time. For some questions, I just read the responses and learn; for others, I am able to share my knowledge. This one was a great question where I added a little information, but really just sat back, read, and learned.

In the group, Elmhurst [IL] Honor Guard Academy, firefighter Todd Kirkpatrick asked this great question: I’m looking for information and/or opinions regarding appropriate dress for on-duty personnel. Our fire department will be positioned along the procession route for a fallen police officer. We are not part of the processional, but want to pay our respects to the fallen officer. A few of the members are insistent on wearing turnout coats with helmet. They are stating the cold weather makes it appropriate and we are on duty anyway.

I feel wearing our dirty turnout gear is somewhat disrespectful when it would be just as easy to wear our duty shirts (button down shirt with a badge) and our duty jackets (yellow reflective squad jackets) along with our dress caps. My department is full-time with nine personnel on duty that day. We are firefighters and paramedics with 82% of our calls being EMS, so it’s not like we are likely to get called to a fire during this time.

My Facebook friend and firefighter, Glen Busch, had this excellent answer: There is nothing cut and dry however Turnout gear is work wear. it was designed for the mud of WWI Trenches originally. That being said not everyone has good quality Class “B” uniform much less class “A”. Personal preference especially for a memorial wear your duty uniform. Cap and Tie if possible would also be appropriate. And don’t forget to clean off your boots/shoes.

Firefighter Bryan Downie added, I was on duty a few miles east of Todd for the same procession. I’m also the Deputy Commander of our honor guard. One thing that I feel needs to be factored into the equation is weather. That particular day was extremely cold with steady winds. Our on duty crews wore turnout coats, helmets and fire gloves.

DrillMaster. The military requires headgear for rendering a salute (except for the Army and AF indoors) because all uniforms require headgear and since not all firefighter uniforms require headgear, requiring a salute only while wearing headgear (not that that is what you wrote), would require a last minute headgear/uniform scramble when, honestly, everyone just wants to show their respects.

Todd. The shift OIC ended up having both on and off duty personnel wear turnout coats, helmets and firefighting gloves. Looked very “uniform”. But in my opinion not appropriate or professional for a line of duty death.

My thoughts on the pictures of the firefighters is that they look absolutely wonderful! While firefighters understand much more what this uniform is all about and that it may not be a very good “ceremonial representation”, It looks to be the perfect way to pay respects to a fallen officer and, much more importantly, the officer’s family- what they saw was a great deal of respect being given to their loved one. It was awesome.

The Honor Guard and the Suicide

Image courtesy of www.fox46charlotte.com

It’s been years since I was part of an Airman’s Active Duty (full honors) funeral who committed suicide (early 1990s). During the preparation for that funeral I remember some of my fellow guardsmen voicing their opinion as to whether the Airmen deserved full honors or even a flag on his casket. Suicide is looked upon as shameful; less so now, but the stigma of shame is still there.

I recently received a phone call one morning from the commander of a newly-established firefighter honor guard that I trained with a question about rendering honors for a Fire Chief who served 33 years, retired, and five years later, committed suicide. The commander already had specific ideas on how to handle this sensitive situation, but wanted an opinion from an experienced ceremonial guardsman.

Side note: There are many articles published across the web, see this article on Cumulative PTSD and also this article on The Secret Sadness of Retired Men.  Whether this Fire Chief had either one of these issues is immaterial to the honor guard.

My response to the commander was that we, in the ceremonial world, represent all members, past and present (the reason why we do not wear name tags), of our service and render honors to all regardless of how they passed away. For us in the military, a court martial and the type of discharge may have an affect on whether the honor guard is authorized to render military honors, but for everyone who served honorably, there are the three types of funeral: 1. Full Honors Funeral; 2. Standard Honors Funeral; and 3. Veteran Honors Funeral. Each of the three funeral types has a written standard that Active Duty, retirees, or veterans must meet. That’s it. When the deceased meets any of those three funeral standards and has served honorably, nothing else matters.

As a member of a ceremonial unit, you are not yourself, you are a ceremonial guardsman (one is not an “honor guard”, the unit is the honor guard) and one’s thoughts on a certain subject are immaterial- you have standards to follow, which is why those standards were written in the first place. To highlight this point think of it this way: on the service honor guards in DC you are there to do a job regardless of who the President is and whether you voted for that person or not. The saying goes, “POTUS is POTUS”. (POTUS = President of the United States)

Now, having said all of that, for First Responder community, whatever the honor guard is going to do is up to what the family wants. Casket watch, colors, escort, pallbearers, apparatus caisson, and 2-/6-man flag fold (whatever your team is ready for), can all be offered through the family liaison and the family can choose.

Semper ad Honorem. Always for Honor.

The Minimum and Maximum Number for a Color Guard

Firefighter Color Guard Axes at Right Shoulder
DrillMaster Honor Guard Academy Graduation Chino Valley Fire 2016 Firefighter Color Guard Axes at Right Shoulder

Two of the questions that I receive quite often:

  1. How many flags can our color guard carry?
  2. What do we do if one of our four team members do not show?

The Maximum
With two rifle (axe) guards you can have what the joint service color team carries (in this order):

  1. US
  2. State (not usual with more than one service color)
  3. Army
  4. USMC
  5. USN
  6. USAF
  7. USCG

The USCG is a military service and during times of war serves as a component of the US Navy. Any other time, it is a law enforcement agency serving under the Department of Homeland Security. Please read About Joint Service Order (which includes information in the comments section regarding the Public Health Service- PHS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- NOAA) and Military Service Order of Precedence .

Or you could have:

  1. US
  2. State
  3. City or Service
  4. Department or Service JROTC

The standard color guard:

  1. US
  2. State or Service

So, the maximum number of colors would be eight flags with the minimum being two flags. Remember, this is not the maximum “authorized” or “appropriate,” this is hypothetical and you may have occasion to carry a variation of the above.

Notes:

  • The US is ALWAYS on the marching right or at the front for a military color team (NEVER in the center- not even if it is taller)
    • The only exemption to this may be a Tribal Nation color on Tribal Lands (which would be all of the US, technically)
  • A state color is ALWAYS before any service flag, right after the US

The Minimum
Now we get to a sticky point for some. This section answers the second question of what happens if someone does not show up.

For the military service honor guards in and around Washington DC, it is quite common to see a color guard of three members at various ceremonies. The flag for this setup is an American (funeral for the President) or a foreign nation’s flag (an arrival ceremony). Each service color guard, any other time, will always carry the American and the service flags. While ceremonial units overseas will carry the US, host country, and service flag, stateside installation teams may carry the state at certain times.

There are situations where a personal color (flag) is carried, but that color is only for that individual and never has rifle guards. A personal color is a general or admiral’s flag, a US Secretary’s flag (armed service, etc.) and even the POW/MIA flag.

Does this mean that your team should never march three members on your color guard? Not necessarily. Here is an example:

Three-man color guard
Three-man color guard courtesy of Honor and Remember

Four members of your team are set to march a parade, you have all practiced and all team members know, as they should, the manual for for the flagstaff and the rifle (axe). The morning of the parade comes and one member is unable to show for whatever reason. Do you now march with one rifle (axe) guard? No, march with the American flag. This is making the best of a potentially bad situation.

What About the POW/MIA Flag?

Color Guard with POW/MIA flag in formation
Color Guard with POW/MIA flag in formation courtesy of US Army, Ft. McCoy

This is a contentious topic. The POW/MIA flag always/never marches with the other flags in a color guard. Just ask some very well-intentioned veterans and service men and women in different parts of the country and you will get either answer. My advice? The US military honor guard standard is to carry and post it separately. I recommend carrying it separately.  Read the article, Can the POW/MIA flag be in a Color Guard, here. There isn’t any official guidance for carrying the POW/MIA flag in a color guard, the Flag Code guidance is for flying it on an outside pole directly under or next to the American Flag.

Color Guard with POW/MIA flag outside of formation
Color Guard with POW/MIA flag outside of formation courtesy of maritime.edu

The Three Types of Respect

And you probably thought there was only one type. I did initially.

Thank you very much to my Facebook friends who chimed in giving me their requested feedback for this article. Very interesting!

I need to make one point very clear, it does not matter what one “thinks” about this subject.

“I think respect is…”

Respect- wrongWhat you think, what I think, does not matter since our thinking is based mostly from experience and training. Please approach this article with a willingness to learn, I did as I researched it and learned more than I thought I would.

From Dictionary.com, these are definitions 3, 4, and 5 of Respect for our purposes:

3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability:

ex. I have great respect for her judgment.

4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment:

ex. respect for a suspect’s right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.

5. the condition of being esteemed or honored:

ex. to be held in respect.

I utterly despise the phrase sometimes shoved in our faces:

“Respect is (always) earned, never given.”

My response:

“WRONG!”

But why?

Respect- wrongSwimming around in my mind for some time now is the theory that some may confuse trust and respect. My thinking was along the lines of: respect is given and trust is earned. I thought it may be a possibility just as some misconstrue sex and love. I was also trying to identify the likelihood of there being three different types of respect, but I just could not nail it down nor did I have the time to begin the research. More on this in a moment, back to the phrase I dislike so much.

Respect is (always) earned. I can understand earned respect; it is the use of the absolute, always, that I do not agree with. Sometimes “always” is not used. Still, something about the idea of “earnable/losable” bugs me; basic respect must still be there, regardless of earned/lost.

Never given. This part of the statement is another absolute. It is the portion of the phrase that gives me difficulty because its application is so broad and, like an infection, can spread and destroy. The destruction is of relationships, organizations, and, ultimately, a country.

Why is respect never given? What good reason could there be for it? That reason does not exist, in a sense, as we shall see.

What we now know so far:

If

“Respect is (always) earned”

Then

Some sort of action must take place, which means it is impossible for perfect strangers, upon meeting, to “earn” each other’s respect.

Respect

The Three Types of Respect
Dr. Steven Ater to the rescue. He wrote about The Three Types of Respect here. I’ve provided my take on the first two types.

  1. The Respect of Personhood
    • Definition: each person, who was made in the image of God, has innate worth
    • Example: Matthew 7:12 is the quote from scripture that is most often described as the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is also Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3, Titus 2:7, and 1 Peter 2:17, just to name a few verses out of many that speak of respect for people, regardless of how you feel about them.
  2. The Respect of Authority
  3. The Respect of Honor
    • Definition and Example: “When we grant someone the Respect of Honor we are recognizing their excellence in some quality or qualities and tend to defer to them within these areas of excellence (but not generally outside those areas of excellence). Respect of Honor involves a great deal of trust and much hurt can be done if they abuse that trust.” –Dr. Ater

Offered or Earned?
Now that we have a definition that gives us the three types of respect, let’s delve in further to see what can be earned and lost.

  1. The Respect of Personhood
    • Should be given, no matter what you feel or think
    • This type is “earned” by being born and it cannot be lost. Having said that, it is a type that can only be given. This is where selfishness plays a big part. Due to selfishness, this type of respect, for some, is rarely given.
    • This includes parents which extends to everyone who is one’s elder. Of the Ten Commandments, number five is the only one to include a result of following that rule: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
  2. The Respect of Authority
    • Should be given, no matter what you feel or think
    • This type is “earned” by appointment to a position and, just like the Respect of Personhood, selfishness again rears its ugly head. Again, due to selfishness, this type of respect, for some, is rarely given.
  3. The Respect of Honor
    • This is the only type of respect that is earned and lost.

This brings up a very good question:

Is disrespect tantamount to not showing respect?

Another definition from Dictionary.com, this time for the word, Disrespect.

Noun
Lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.

Verb (used with object)
to regard or treat without respect; regard or treat with contempt or rudeness.TResearching “disrespect and not showing respect”, Macmilliandictionary.com gave me a very interesting way to define this phrase. The following words came up to help give a more rich understanding of what disrespect and not showing respect might be:

  • Scorn, noun, a feeling that someone or something is not good enough to deserve your approval or respect
  • Disdain, noun, the feeling that someone or something is not important and does not deserve any respect
  • Contempt, noun, a failure to show appropriate respect for something that other people consider to be important
  • Disregard, noun, the attitude of someone who does not respect something or consider it important
  • Contemptuous, adjective, showing that you do not respect someone or something at all
  • Derogatory, adjective, showing that you have a bad opinion of something or someone, usually in an insulting way
  • Derisive, adjective, showing that you think someone or something is stupid, unimportant, or useless
  • familiarity breeds contempt, used for saying that you can stop respecting someone or something when you know them very well

Synonyms of Disrespect (thesaurus.com. Highlighted word, mine)

Noun: disregard, rudeness toward someone

contempt

boldness

coarseness

discourtesy

dishonor

flippancy

hardihood

impertinence

impiety

impoliteness

impudence

incivility

Insolence

irreverence

sacrilege

insolency

insolentness

lack of respect

unmannerliness

Antonyms of Disrespect (thesaurus.com)

courtesy

humility

manners

politeness

respect

reverence

civility

esteem

honor

regard

It is clear to me that “not showing respect”, as benign as one may think it to be, is actually being disrespectful. Anything but respect is, in essence, disrespect. I am convinced and convicted.

The great thing about a new day and even a new year is that we get a chance to begin again. We can even ask others for forgiveness. Whether that person forgives us or not, we still need to show them respect based on the Respect of Personhood (and Authority, if applicable), even if the respect we offer is not returned.

The Burial at Sea

Burial at Sea is a long standing maritime tradition and, just like a committal service on land, there are certain procedures to follow. Picture courtesy of navaltoday.com.

It’s not just military members, Coast Guard or Merchant Mariners, there are also law enforcement and firefighting departments that have water-dedicated sections and burial at sea for the members of those sections would be appropriate.

Ceremonial Elements
The elements for a land-based full honors funeral are the body bearers (pallbearers), color team, firing party, and troop escort. See also The Graveside Sequence for Funeral Directors Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3 for explanations of the different arrangements for funerals.

Being at sea is a bit different. The six or eight body bearers are there whether there is a casket or cremains and the firing party is there. The color team is replaced by the flag(s) flown at half mast aboard ship. It depends on the size of the deck as to whether there is room for a formation (the troop escort).

US Navy Ceremonial Guardsmen personnel carry the cremains of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong during a burial at sea service aboard the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Also, because the committal service is on a boat or ship at sea, standing at attention with your feet together is not necessarily the most stable position. Keeping your feet apart is probably going to be the better technique to maintain stability, no matter the position for the rest of your body. Notice the picture here of Neil Armstrong’s burial. All of the Ceremonial Guardsmen are at Attention even though their feet are apart.

Atlantic Ocean (May 19, 2004) – Sailors commit to the sea the body of Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Nathan Taylor during a Burial at Sea ceremony conducted from one of the ship’s aircraft elevators aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Rob Gaston

Casket, Urn, or Shroud
It all depends what the deceased wants or what the family wants for the deceased. If a metal or wood casket is used, weights are added and large holes drilled to help it sink quickly. If the casket does not readily sink, the casket must be retrieved, weight and/or holes are added and the casket is then sent into the water again.

Central Command Area of Responsibility (May 01, 2003) — Sailors aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) honor six former U.S. military members during a burial at sea ceremony. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Alan J. Baribeau.

For cremains (cremated remains), there are a couple of different ways that the cremains enter the water. Due to environmental concerns, placing a plastic urn into the water is not done anymore. Metal and ceramic or good, but biodegradable urns are preferred.

An alternative to placing the urn in the water is to open the urn and the plastic bag that is inside and then dump the cremains (some ashes, but mostly bone) into the water.

The burial shroud can be sail material or this interesting shroud the is specifically made for sea burials and yet is appropriate for viewing the deceased in the funeral home.  It is the Atlantic & Pacific Sea Burial Shroud. It is pre-weighted with canon balls in a separate compartment at the bottom.

Atlantic Pacific Burial Shroud

The Firing Party
The team fires the Three Volley Salute out over the water without taking aim.

For complete details, click here to download NAVPERS 15555, Navy Military Funerals, or from the Downloads page.

Fair Winds and Following Seas