Tag Archives: rotc

Color Guard: Two Guards, American Flag, and…?

The standard color guard has four members:

  1. Right/Lead Guard
  2. American Flag Bearer
  3. Other Flag Bearer
  4. Left/Trail Guard

Guards
The guards are always armed (except in a chapel, at the discretion of the pastor). The weapons the guards may carry are:

  1. Ceremonial-style rifle (M1, M14, M1903)
  2. Modern automatic rifle (M16, etc., not as nice looking)
  3. Shotgun (fairly standard for law enforcement)
  4. Ceremonial Fire Ax (standard for firefighters)
  5. Ceremonial Pike Pole (not as usual nor as recognizable)
  6. Guards should NEVER carry swords or sabers, nor should rifles have mounted bayonets

Two guards are standard. I’ve seen teams with one guard due to a team member falling ill, and even teams without guards at all- that’s just not how to present the colors at any time.

American Flag Bearer
Always next to (marching right) or directly behind the Right/Lead Guard, NEVER in the middle or anywhere else.

ENSURE ALL FLAGS ARE THE SAME HEIGHT!

“Other Flag” Bearer
A question arose a few days ago the question arose from a fire department team about what flag should march next in line. Since the team usually marches three flags, US, State, Local or Organizational, and now they can only march two flags, which one should be next?

For us in the military the answer is always taken care of for us; the other flag for a color team is always the service color when marching two colors. When overseas, many teams march three colors by default: US, Host Nation, and Service Color (when on “American soil” US installation, American cemetery), or Host Nation, US, and Service Color (when on “foreign soil”, anywhere else).

For first responders, the state, local, or organizational flag is just fine. For JROTC and other cadet organizations, your first choice should be your service color, but your unit color is appropriate.

Click here read about the position that should never be used for color bearers!

Education is Key!
Please review your service manual or The Honor Guard Manual to have that knowledge as fresh as possible for when you need it.

Raising and Lowering the Flag

Across the country,  JROTC units receive requests to perform duties several times each year and Memorial Day is no different. Unfortunately, what the cadets are requested to do can create concern. Here is an example.

Recently a CMSgt JROTC instructor wrote to me seeking guidance since his cadets had practiced and practiced a certain way (read: properly, as the Chief had learned during his career and taught his cadets), but the request included some quite odd requirements. One requirement was to take the flags that would already be at half-staff, raise them, and lower them back to half-staff for the ceremony.

My reply: Going from half-staff to half-staff is improper.

Just like when a base or first responder honor guard receives a request for a ceremonial element for a performance- you are the ceremonial expert, not the requesting party (Education is Key!). You are the ones who dictate what happens to follow proper protocol based off the Flag Code and your service manual or The Honor Guard Manual. The requesting party may request slight variations to the norm and that may be OK, but you, as the ceremonial element that will provide the performing members, must be well educated in proper procedures.

Going to Half-staff
One of the two halyard bearers attaches the American flag to the clasps, the flag bearer only unfolds the triangle folds, and holds it in his arms. On the first note of music, the two team members on the halyard, briskly raise the flag while the one pulling counts the number of times he’s pulling the flag up. Once at the top, lower the flag half of the number of pulls using the same arm reach. Secure the halyard. All three members look straight forward the whole time. Once the flag leaves the flag bearer’s hands, that individual renders the hand salute. See also The American Flag at Half-Staff.

A ceremony for Raising and Lowering the American Flag.

Two Flags Going Up
Use one team member for each flag. Attach the American and attach the other non-national flag (POW/MIA, state, etc.). Do not raise the flags any higher the the halyard bearer’s head; attach both flags and bunch them in your arms until raised unless you are working with a crank and internal halyard. DO NOT LOOK UP. Follow the technique outlined above.

Members of the 63rd RSC raise the flags during a ceremony at the Veterans Services Office in Santa Clara, Calif., on May 27, 2017. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

Do not look up, like these Soldiers are doing.

In my research, I cannot find specific guidance for having two flags at half-staff on the same pole/halyard, the American and the POW/MIA, for instance. However, the Flag Code’s guidance is only for the American flag and that could be taken as flying another flag underneath it is not appropriate, but that is only conjecture. It is up to you as to what you find is the most appropriate way to honor our flag and our nation.

The POW/MIA flag goes directly beneath the American, then the state flag. That may seem strange, but its guidance from the Flag Code.

Also read: Guidance for Multiple Flags on a Single Pole

Coming From Half-staff
The flag(s) is raised briskly to the top and lowered all the way down slowly and ceremoniously.  While the flag(s) is lowered, the flag bearer(s) renders the hand salute looking straight forward the whole time (do not look up to see if you need to get the flag!). Use your peripheral vision and  glance at the ground to see the flag’s shadow to gauge when it is getting closer. Once the flag comes into your field of vision – looking straight ahead – drop your salute and proceed to the flag to gather it. If lowering two flag, each team member must gather their own flag while the halyard bearer detaches it from the clasps.

Difference Between Staff and Mast
The word, Mast, is a nautical term used by the Marines, Navy and anyone else associated with water. The term, Staff, is used by the Army and Air Force. Color guards use Staffs and flags are flown outside on a Pole, but “Half-pole” sounds silly.

Distance Between Flags
When flying two flags on a single mast and halyard (there are double-halyard masts), to my knowledge, there isn’t any guidance on the distance between flags except for the USAF. The USAF protocol manual states that the bottom flag must attach to the halyard far enough below the American flag so that the American does not touch the lower flag when at rest.

So, unless you are on an Air Force base,  you may place the second flag where you feel it is most appropriate. I must admit that the USAF standard of having a large space can look quite strange.

See also: When to Raise and Lower the American Flag | Folding Multiple Flags When Taken Down |

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 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.

How To Present the Colors at an Event

I was talking with one of the JROTC instructors at one of the local high schools where I teach in the afternoons and he was relaying the story of their color guard presenting the colors for a professional ball club and how the training I gave the team really helped since it provided the cadets and the instructors with a repertoire of moves from which they could choose to make their colors presentation look as professional as possible. Then it hit me- I really need to write an article about this! Yes, all of this information is in my book, The Honor Guard Manual, but, I really want to get this information out as far and wide as possible- as I always say, “Education is key”!

For the announcers out there, here is a great article on what to announce for the different situations announcers may encounter. Click here for the article, P.A. Announcement: Color/Honor Guard.

UPDATE: Which way does the team face? A cadet contacted me on Instagram asking about the proper direction to face for presenting the colors. That is an excellent question! Below, the images concentrate mainly on professional events where the team must hit a certain mark for the TV cameras. However, there are high school and college games that come into question, although many college games, if not all, are probably on the same level of a professional event with TV cameras.

High School Games

I appreciate why a team would face the end zone instead of the home team stands and fully support that thinking, this is exactly what my color guard used to do while I was drum major of my high school band. Doing it is very appropriate, here’s why: it’s a game, not a war. Yes, I understand that some may build a sport up to the level of “doing battle on the field”, but it’s not even close. The other team is not made up of enemies. The other side of the field or court is full of spectators; parents and grandparents who are out to see their student play his or her heart out. Everyone is there to support their team and enjoy the sport. Facing only one side does not create a sense of mutual respect.

Sporting Events

There are a couple (at least) different ways to enter, position, and exit a sports field. Some, provide a unique “problem” on how to accomplish the ceremony while keeping the flag in the primary spot (to the marching right or in front). Once you read this, you will not encounter any more “problems”.

Below I have created images to illustrate the different ways to enter and exit the different fields you may come across. If it is a professional sport, your team will have a certain spot to hit at a certain time while facing a certain direction for the TV camera all coordinated with the timing for the broadcast.

Do you need to find out how to execute the moves mentioned above (e.g. Every Left On/Off, etc.)? Get these books that will explain everything for you (click on the title):

The Honor Guard Manual

DrillMaster’s Color Guard Coache’s Field Manual

Basketball Court

Basketball Colors Presentation

Entrance from the viewer’s left. For this setup, the team would form up in column formation and wait. At their cue, they would march forward, round their corner to the right at the corner of the court, and at the center line, execute Every Left On, to rearrange the team for the presentation. The team may wait at the back of the court and again wait for another cue, or continue to march forward once in line formation and hit their mark for the presentation. An alternate to this is rounding the corner at the key and executing Every Left On at center court.

The same principles apply for Baseball and Football.

Baseball Diamond

Baseball Colors Presentation

Entrance from the viewer’s right. For this setup, the team marches out to the pitcher’s mound, or behind second base in single file, picks up Mark Time at a predetermined spot, and executes a Colors Turn-On. The exit would then be either a Colors Turn-Off to exit to the viewer’s left, or Every Left Off to retrace the path of entry.

The Football layout is similar to the Basketball layout.

Football/Soccer Field

Football Colors Presentations

Ice Hockey, however, is a little different. Notice the Big difference in carpet positioning at the beginning.

Ice Hockey Rink

Ice Hockey Colors Presentation to the Right

The first setup involves entering, traveling down the carpet and presenting to the right. This involves Every Left On. To exit from here, the team execute a Colors Turn-Off.

Ice Hockey Colors Presentation to the Left

The second setup involves traveling down the carpet and presenting to the left. This involves Colors Turn-On. To exit from here, the team execute Every Left Off beginning with the Right Rifle/Axe Guard.

 

The Graveside Sequence For Funeral Directors Part 2

The Modified Funeral Sequence

Again, military and first responder funerals are about the deceased, but for the family.

Modified Funeral Setup

The honor guard arrives one hour before the ceremony and makes a couple of dry runs in their travel uniform.

  1. Fifteen to 20 minutes before the funeral, the team changes into their ceremonial uniform and forms up each element, pall bearers should face the grave.
  2. When the family arrives in the cemetery, the team should “tighten up”.
  3. At 100 yards out, team leadership calls everyone to attention.
  4. At 50 yards out, key members render a hand salute.
  5. The coach pulls up with the casket. Salutes are dropped.
  6. The family and guests exit their vehicles and gather around the coach. The funeral director signals the commander of the team to begin.
  7. The pallbearers remove the casket and transport it to the grave all elements render a salute (firing party commander if there).
  8. The pallbearers place the casket on the mockup and the bugler and firing party commander drop their salutes.
  9. The pallbearers bring the flag to “tabletop” the pallbearers fold the flag, hand it to the commander and depart to take up their positions as the firing party* and bugler.
  10. Firing party fires, the bugler sounds Taps, the flag is presented to the NOK and the team departs.

*The minimum compliment for a firing party is three members who fire. The maximum is seven. Any makeup of the firing party fires only three times. They do not fire the 21-Gun Salute.

The funeral can go one of two ways, depending on what the family wants:

  1. Religious service first. A chaplain says a few words and the funeral director says, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise (prepare) for the rendering of (military) honors”.
  2. (Military) honors first. The firing party fires the Three-Volley Salute, the bugler sounds Taps, and the commander presents the flag to the next of kin. All elements depart.

The Veteran Funeral Sequence.

Veteran Funeral Setup

  1. The two- or three-member honor guard arrives one hour before the ceremony and makes a couple of dry runs in their travel uniform. One member carries the urn, one carries the flag and one pre-posts to sound Taps.
  2. Fifteen to 20 minutes before the funeral, the team changes into their ceremonial uniform and forms up where the coach (probably a four-door car) will stop.
  3. When the family arrives in the cemetery, the team should “tighten up”.
  4. At 100 yards out, team leader brings the team to attention.
  5. At 50 yards out, the commander renders a hand salute.
  6. The coach pulls up with the casket, commander drops salute.
  7. The family and guests exit their vehicles and gather around the coach. The funeral director opens each (rear) door of the coach (car), urn on the left, folded flag on the right.
  8. The pallbearers approach and face the vehicle at the same time and then remove the urn and flag.
  9. The pallbearers place the urn and flag on the designated platform (e.g. a table).
  10. The pallbearers move out of the way facing the family. The funeral director announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise (prepare) for the rendering of (military) honors”. The two honor guard members move into place: one in front of the table to retrieve the flag and one behind, centered on the family, (both can be in front if there is enough room to fold the flag there). The member with the flag moves to the other and, while they unfold the flag, both take steps backward to remain centered on the family until all of the triangle folds are unfolded.
  11. If only two members, the flag is refolded and one member departs to sound Taps and then the other member who is standing by, presents the flag to the NOK.
  12. Once the flag is completely open, the preposted member sounds Taps. Once Taps is finished, the flag is refolded and presented to the NOK. Honor guard members depart.

The Little Honor Guard Members

I have been scouring the internet for many years learning about the differences in military drill around the world. One thing that isn’t different is the interest that many young men and women enjoy in the hours of work it takes to present a superior drill team (called an “honor guard” in Asia) performance and in some cases, age does not matter.

2010071500341This little boy, Ryan, in the picture at right, lives in Taiwan. This picture is from 2011 when he was just three-years old.

He loves honor guard in Taiwan, so the Taiwan military has allowed him to perform with their drill teams for several years now. This video is from 2012.

Ryan even changes uniforms! A video from 2015.

One question that I posed was, why does Ryan do everything in the opposite (opposite shoulder, Port to the right) from the members of the drill team? The answer I received was that he learns by watching and mirrors what he sees. I don’t think it will be that difficult to have Ryan switch when the time comes- who knows, he may very well be Taiwan’s greatest exhibition Driller in the coming years.

Click here to see Ryan’s Facebook page.

 

 

If I remember correctly, this little boy back in the early 2000s, loved what his uncle did at an Air Force Base in Southern California so his mother made him a tiny Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial uniform.

Little Boy in USAF Ceremonials

Just like children taking an interest in music or other arts, this is a positive influence on these very young men. If you would like to encourage the children you know in military drill or even marching band color guard, you make your own rifle out of wood: go to the Downloads page and find the DrillMaster iDrill Rifle and also the iDrill Rifle Jr!