Category Archives: DrillCenter News

News from around the drill world including, Drillers, drill teams, honor guards and more.

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.

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

Back to Basics

lombardiVince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers football team, never liked to lose a game. The team lost one particular game that Mr. Lombardi thought they definitely should not have. The game was lost due to the team making several mistakes on the field. On the bus ride to the airport the coach said nothing. On the plane ride home again, he said nothing. The next day at practice, the coach gathered the team around him on the field, reached into a canvas bag, and said to the team, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The team then proceeded to go through all of the basics of the game of football.

I few years ago, I was hired to work with a prestigious military college drill team. The team had been showing poor results for several years and a member of the staff thought it was time for a change. That staff member and I spoke at length through email about the issues he felt the team had and from that discussion I formulated a plan for a weekend’s worth of rigorous training. By the end of the weekend, I took the team through regulation and color guard drill according to the Marine Corps Order under which most colleges drill. I had also written a two-minute sample exhibition routine that I taught them.

That drill season, the team did better than the previous years, but there was still one big issue that had to be addressed – attitude. The definition that best describes this term in this instance would be, a “truculent or uncooperative behavior; a resentful or antagonistic manner”. It not only came from the older members (juniors and seniors) of the team, but also from alumni who got wind of my presence at the school and wondered why I was taking the team through regulation drill. For them, what I really should have concentrated on was perfecting the exhibition routine that had been marched year after year after year with poor results. I encouraged the cadets to concentrate on the task at hand and to hopefully take and “run with the ball” of training this refresher course offered. It didn’t happen completely. (Insert the music, Tradition!, from Fiddler on the Roof.) With continued concentration on and respect for the principles that the cadets received throughout the season, the weekend would have had a much bigger impact.

It’s not just that your team revisits the fundamentals of your service’s drill and ceremonies manual, it’s that you help your team realize that it is extremely important to keep those fundamentals with you, to understand that fundamentals have a great impact on what you do in a performance. For instance, we would never take a new cadet and put him/her on an exhibition drill team during the first week of school and expect a solid performance. Nor would we take a new member of the fire department ceremonial team and expect perfection without a solid grounding in the fundamentals of ceremonial drill.

High school cadets would do well to revisit their service drill and ceremonies manual yearly, is not each semester. The same goes for first responder and military honor guard units, a yearly (at least) review  of the manual, would be a great refresher to keep those fundamental facts fresh.

The DrillMaster Drill Team Improvement Seminar

DrillMaster Drill Team Improvement SeminarJROTC units across the country send drill teams and colors guards to drill competitions for many of the school year’s Saturdays. Whether your team is competitive in World Class events or can only afford a couple of hours of practice each week, everyone can benefit from this course.

Download the flyer from my Downloads page under the DrillMaster University heading.

What you receive when you attend a seminar:

  • Books! One copy of each of the DrillMaster books, the canon of exhibition and regulation drill. Ceremonial drill books extra.
  • Foundational education to help improve your drill team: armed, unarmed, regulation and exhibition
  • An introduction to movement
  • A presentation of exhibition and regulation drill videos with a breakdown of performances according to the World Drill Association adjudication standards
  • Techniques on applying the fundamentals learned
  • PLUS! DrillMaster Diagnosis sessions throughout- bring recordings of your team

Where and when can I attend?

  • Seminars are conducted throughout the year.

What about hosting a clinic locally?

  • A classroom with a projector for a computer
  • Ten to twenty instructors
  • Clinic host discounts apply which means a clinic is also a fundraiser!

 

 

 

The DrillMaster DrillUp! Clinic

DrillUp! Movement Clinic
DrillUp! Movement Clinic

I’ve been teaching in various official capacities since 1986 and since 2009, I’ve been teaching various elements of what I have developed into a formal clinic for cadets, mainly, and JROTC instructors. The best news is that the clinic is free! I teach it to JROTC units as I travel the country instructing first responder ceremonial units.

The text of the flyer that I created is below and you can download the flyer at my Downloads page under the heading DrillMaster University. The best thing to do is get cadets from all over your area to attend the clinic that last three to five hours, depending on how many cadets attend.

What you get in the clinic:

  • Command voice principles
  • Movement mechanics and principles
  • Effort qualities
  • An understanding of unarmed exhibition movement
  • An introduction to armed exhibition movement
  • Teamwork activities

What does it take to host a clinic?

  • A gymnasium or some place similar
  • Access to an electrical outlet is helpful

What do the cadets need to bring?

  • Water and snacks for the breaks
  • Sturdy shoes for marching
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Any kind of drill rifle

What is the price for cadets?

  • A positive attitude
  • A Desire to learn
  • A willingness to improve
  • $0

How many cadets can attend?

  • 20 minimum, up to 100

 

The Summer of Drill!

drill team training, honor guard training
The Summer of George!

If George Costanza (from the TV series Seinfeld) can have “The Summer of George!” Then those of us in the military drill world can have The Summer of Drill! Every summer! But our summers will be filled with training and performances!

Each summer, I am heavily engaged with the Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy in Flemingsburg, Kentucky at the National Cadet Training Center at Camp Sousley, training cadets at drill camps, and working with first responders teaching Honor Guard Ceremonial Unit Academies across the country. I even travel internationally, at times, writing and teaching exhibition drill.

Competitions: Solo exhibition drill competitions are just about everywhere. Seek and you will find. If you would like to advertise your competition on this website contact me!

If you contact me, please be patient as I will be working long, thoroughly enjoyable days. I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Article Links

My best advice? Read, read, read, read, read. Knowledge is key!

Drill Teams

Honor Guard/Ceremonial Teams

Color Guards

POW/MIA Flag and Ceremony

American Flag

DrillMasterTraining  and DrillMaster YouTube Channels

drill team training, drill team motivation, drill instructor, drill camp, drill academy, honor guard training, honor guard academy

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.