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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 He is listed as a Founding Father for the Tomb Guard Society and was possible one of a team of Soldiers, or maybe even “the one”, who developed the manuals that the Sentinels and Drill Team use to this day with modifications here and there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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”!

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.


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The Color Guard for the Disabled

Disabled Colors Side

Many disabled and paralysed veterans across the country want to take part in Veterans Day, Memorial Day parades and other celebrations even taking part in honor guard duties at funerals.

The picture above is an example of two members taking part in a color guard. While the picture below is another example, this time of a full color guard. What I created below includes the American flag, a state flag and all of the service colors in joint service order (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard- for info on this click here). This image was created for visual balance, but you can have any combination of standing members and members in wheelchairs.

When moving forward, you can stay in step or not, it doesn’t matter. Also, holding the flagstaff straight up or at an angle is your choice. If the staff is quite long, you can rest it on a wheelchair footrest, hold the shorter flagstaff with one or both hands while resting it on the seat.

While some may feel that all of this information is straight-forward, not everyone deals with this issue until it comes up and when it comes up, there really isn’t any information available. Now, we have the information.

Disabled Colors Wedge Formation

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What a JROTC Drill Team Commander Should Know

studyBeing a Leader
Question 1: I was thinking about my weaknesses & strengths and a problem appeared to me. I want to be drill team commander, but I’m going to be a second-year cadet. Some of the other cadets are 3rd year, and it would appear to me that they would say, “why wasn’t I choosen?” This is going to be my first time actually leading a competing team other than an in-class team, and I thought about what do I do to make the team stay motivated and focused without them leaving and saying they don’t have to listen to me. Please help me get a better understanding of what I could do to become a better leader.

Answer 1: The best way to become a leader is by developing your educational foundation. That means, read about exhibition and regulation drill. Study your service drill and ceremonies manual and read every article at my website that pertains to you. Then, read about leadership: how to lead, what to say, how to motivate, etc.

My books are also available to you. Learn how to create an exhibition drill routine: how to write the drill and then layer the body movements and, if your team is armed, the rifle movements, on top of the written drill. You have much studying to do and at times it may seem dull, but your end goal will make studying so worthwhile.

You also have me. I am here to answer your questions or to just give you that extra motivation. Whatever I can do. You have my personal email address now, so make good use of it.

Let your instructors know that you are interested in becoming the drill team commander, that you plan on spending the summer deep in study and that you will return next school year a much-educated cadet.

Developing a PROPER Command Voice
Question 2: I just attended a leadership camp and I was able to meet many cadets from schools all over my area. Which means, of course, different cultures and sounds, etc. Which made me think, what is a good command voice for AFJROTC? Please help me understand and build my command voice to the best of my abilities.

Answer 2: Good to hear from you again! This is a great learning situation in which you find yourself. You’ve come to the right place. There are standardized, proper ways to call commands- probably none of which you might have heard this summer. Please read my article, Your Command Voice.

Strictness and The Other Guy Lost
Question 3: I’ve tried your tips, and they have worked! Many cadets have told me to get more strict, but I don’t want to come off as mean, and have all my team leave. Please help me find the balance.

Also, I have a cadet who wanted the position of drill team commander, but I got it, so I felt tension from him when he saw I got it. Do you know any possible way I can resolve these problems?

Answer 3: Strictness is a matter of perception. What you really need to do is establish and maintain standards. That is not being mean-spirited to others, it is upholding standards.

Standards like

  • Arriving on time
  • Learning and maintaining standing manual, the manual of arms
  • and/or the manual of the flagstaff
  • Respect, integrity, etc.
  • Uniform wear
  • Just about anything else of which you can think

In my junior year, I beat out another cadet who wanted drill team commander. He eventually got over it and I fully supported him in his unarmed solo exhibitions- in which he absolutely blew away the competition. Make the other cadet feel as though you support him and make him feel that he is part of the team, just like the others. Maybe offer him the ability to help design the team’s routine or make adjustments to it.

I’m glad my advice is helpful!

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Kings Dominion Drill Competition 2015!


Kings Dominion, the World Drill Association (WDA) and the DrillMaster partnered together to bring the first Kings Dominion Drill Competition in October or 2015. It was a huge success, the teams performed, received an education and were eager to find out when the next competition is scheduled!

The purpose of the competition, so early in the school year, is to create a foundational as well as educational score with WDA adjudication system feedback. From there, teams can only learn and grow in future competitions!

Kings Dominion, the WDA and the DrillMaster are excited about the prospects for KDDC16, stay tuned- on INstagram follow @KingsDominionVA and @DrillMasterTraining!

Click on the links below to download the DrillMaster Audio Performance Feeback files.

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Is it Time for a Break?

St. Amant NJROTC Drill Team
St Amant NJROTC Drill Team

I constantly receive questions about all kinds of issues that relate to the military drill world and one that crops up about once a year is regarding what some call a “drought”.

No, this will not be a history lesson of the American Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1920s. This is about hitting the performance wall. Runners have a wall that they hit and must push themselves to overcome it. Not Drillers. Exhibition drill is a performance art and that wall is treated differently.


I will get a message on Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Kik, Voxer, my phone or through my website (maybe I should scale back…). Anyway, the question sometimes has a video along with it asking what is “wrong” with the segment in the video. Most often, the drill segment looks good and I explain about hitting a performance plateau.

When you record yourself or your team, watch the video and see something supposedly wrong, but cannot think of a solution, that is an indicator that you’ve been working too much.

If you are practicing for at least an hour each day for an extended period, you are doing a well! but after a certain amount of time, the team/you will reach a certain level to where it doe not matter what you do, you just cannot seem to improve or even think of a variation of a certain move.

Drill Teams and Soloists: There are two ways to deal with a performance plateau.

1. Change! No, not the change our government gave us which really was a change, but not what the public expected, create something different. Read this article, Beating a Performance Plateau with New and Improved! Coaches/instructors can help avoid a plateau by planning a change to the routine at a certain point during the drill season, that way it gives the team something new and different to learn and not just have the cadets marching the same thing over and over becoming numb to the performance- which is a real threat when working on Regulation Drill sequences.

2. Break! Every performance ensemble (group) takes a break. A real break, not just a few minutes in between learning sets; a break of a few days or even a week or two. No marching, no spinning and not even thinking about marching or spinning. Go fishing, swimming, travel, run, something, just not what you do daily as a hobby that you truly love to do. Once you return to your daily drill routine, most likely you will be able to have that creativity come right back and you will be off and running for another season!

Everyone needs a break, that is why God invented vacations!