Tag Archives: rotc

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!

The JROTC Instructor and The DrillMaster

DSCN0479I have heard at times from cadets that I say the same thing as their JROTC instructors. That is a good thing. It shows that the JROTC instructors are on the right track of creating a solid educational foundation for their teams (color guard and drill team). The instructors may not teach just like me, but different approaches offer fresh training experiences. But, what if the instructor does  not say the same thing that I do when teaching?

Not everyone in the military knows drill and ceremonies inside and out. As a matter of fact, that is the norm. Most JROTC instructors are senior NCOs who have been away from the marching scene for ten or even fifteen years or more. They were managers in their career field and were not anywhere close to a military formation- for the most part. There are exceptions, most definitely, as evidenced by several JROTC teams that are top-notch for drill.

Civil Air Patrol, US Navy Sea Cadets and the Army-based cadet programs that are across our nation are sometimes better than JROTC units at drill and ceremonies, however, in my experience, all cadet programs are about the same.

Problems? Go back to Competitive Regulation Drill
Many issues can be eliminated by revisiting Competitive Regulation Drill (CRD) training and

Competitive RD is very different from the standard RD that one learns in Basic Training for each service. Regulation Drill moves a military formation from point A to Point B; it teaches teamwork, leadership, etc. Competitive RD goes much beyond that helping the team understand the mechanics behind taking the first step, each subsequent step and how to apply the principles of CRD in the exhibition drill program.

Herein lies the issue: most adults who work with cadets, including JROTC instructors, do not understand what goes into creating a training program that encompasses CRD. In walks The DrillMaster.

What does the DrillMaster offer?
A fresh perspective at training cadets for those units that already have a top-notch team. Basic, intermediate and advanced training information and techniques for everyone else. Books on every aspect of military drill: RD, XD and CD (Exhibition Drill and Ceremonial Drill).

I visit JROTC and other cadet programs for a minimal tuition fee depending on the length of training and help with transportation and lodging. I teach for an afternoon, a weekend or even a week or two.

DrillMaster University
This is the umbrella under which I offer the following courses:

  • DrillUp! (for cadets and instructors)
  • Drill Team Improvement Seminar (for instructors)
  • Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard (click here for more information– offered every summer)
  • Certification programs for instructors/coaches and judges

Visit the Downloads page to download information sheets about the above-mentioned courses.

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.

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)

Announcing the First Annual Rebel Rifle Review!

Drill team training and honor guard training at its best!

This Review will be just like a drill meet, just like performing at a competition, but you get live feedback while the performance is going on with a downloadable MP3 DrillMaster Performance Critique.

Rebel Rifle CorpsWho can enter the review?

Armed and Unarmed:

  • Drill Teams (Exhibition and Regulation Sequences)
  • Squads/Elements (Exhibition and Regulation Sequences)
  • Tetrads (4- or 5-man*)
  • Tandems (2-man*)
  • Color Guards

All of the standard drill meet rules apply for your service. Along with the Performance Critique, your team will also receive a score in the World Drill Association Adjudication System. That score will correlate with written definitions for the score range meaning, you will be able to read what the team is doing well and what needs improvement.

To submit a video of one or all of the above performances, upload them to YouTube and post it on this Facebook page: Facebook.com/Rebtosuccess for the month of March- yes, the whole month! As they are uploaded, The DrillMaster will watch, rate and comment on the routines, upload the MP3 files and then link to them here at this website and also in the above mentioned Facebook group.

You may upload a video that is/was made between 14 Feb 15 to 28 Mar 15. Direct all questions to the Review Director, Cadet Michael Nicholson, at the Facebook group.