Posted on

My Cadet Hero

The best reason for JROTC, in my view, is that high school cadets can wear a military uniform and participate in different activities no matter their physical issues.

I have worked with JROTC units for many years and have had the opportunity to work with many, many cadets. Of those cadets I have seen some with physical issues that would prevent them from joining the military, but they have the opportunity to at least see what it is like to be in a pseudo-military environment. I so appreciate that.

Ariel Summerlin 2012
Ariel Summerlin, 2012

In 2012, I read a story online about a young lady, Ariel Summerlin, who has a physical issue and was intrigued. She does not have a left leg; and yet, she marches with her school’s JROTC program. You read that correctly, she marches with her team. She was a freshman then.

Back then, she was on her unit’s inspection team and did very well. Then she added unarmed regulation drill to her competitive repertoire. She even does extremely well in drill downs (knock out).

Fast forward three years and she is still marching with her team as a high school junior. As I attended Nationals in Daytona Beach, I saw her marching with her team and, when the opportunity was right, I ran over and told her how inspirational she is. I’m sure she has heard that hundreds of times before and that the word “inspirational” might even seem trite, but it’s true. I wanted to get a “selfie” with her, but her team was loading onto the bus on Saturday evening and I thought she was leaving.

Ariel Summerlin and MeSunday arrived and so did she! As she was at a booth near mine and walked over and introduced myself again and asked if I could get a picture with her. She was a little embarrassed and laughed when I commented on her height limitation compared to mine.

Ariel, you’re awesome.

Posted on

Creating the “Drill Buddy” Concept for Your Unit

Battle BuddyThe Army and Marine Corps have the Battle Buddy system. The Navy and Coast Guard have Shipmates and the Air Force incorporated it’s Wingman system service-wide in the late 2000s. Maybe you are not familiar with this concepts but might see the opportunity to adopt it once you see how it works.Honor guard units and drill teams can use this to their great benefit.

Getting Buddy-Buddy
In the military, the number one priority day-in and day-out is safety and the old adage, there’s safety in numbers, is very true. It’s also the reason that many in the law enforcement community have a partner on the job, safety. You do not go anywhere without your “Battle” and it doesn’t matter where you are going. We, in the military drill world, can stretch that concept to go a little further to meet our needs.

Cadets have all kinds of things for which they need to keep track: all of the other classes in school, JROTC and then there is drill team, color guard and even Raiders/Orienteering. On the team, you have to remember to dry clean your uniform, shine shoes, prepare the uniform, haircut, practice days and times, performance days and times, etc. Keeping track of all of that can be much easier when two cadets are working toward that same goal.

Honor guard units (law enforcement, firefighters and EMS) can reap the same benefits of using a buddy system. It’s all for making the team look their best when it counts.

Uniform prepWhat a Drill Buddy Does
Spending the night before a competition to help setup uniforms and shine shoes. That 0400 phone call to make sure your Drill Buddy is up. Finishes your breakfast since it’s way too early. Gives you part of his/her lunch since he/she ate half of your breakfast. But the biggest role a Drill Buddy accomplishes is checking your uniform right after you check his/hers. Yes, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are wearing everything that you need to have on and carrying the rest, but it is your Drill Buddy who makes sure your cover (hat) is on straight and that the chin strap is flush with the bill, that you do not have wrinkles and he/she is the one ready with the lint roller.

To bring all of this together, does your unit have a contract/list of expectations? No? You should and I’ll soon publish an example that you can download, use and modify. Check back, it will be on the Downloads page.

Posted on

The Progression of an Exhibition Drill Soloist

Chris Scanlan is today’s Guest writer. Thank you, Chris!

Scanlan and team 2015My name is Chris Scanlan, I’m a Cadet Captain of The Lebanon High School AFJROTC Unit in Ohio. I’ve been drilling, in every category of drill: Regulation, Inspection, Color Guard, and Exhibition, for four years now. I’m the Co-Drill Team Commander for my drill team, that won state for the past seven years and we are currently leading the circuit for state points. {The image above is of Chris and his teammates in 2015 showing their numerous trophies- DrillMaster]

What got me into drill was basically watching my brother perform drill when I was in 8th grade. I was at a local competition as a fan; I remember watching my brother competing in the armed regulation event. I remember watching everyone being in step together, staying sharp, crisp, and poised. I said, “This is amazing!” and was hooked from there on out! What kept me involved in drill was the Class of 2015 Drillers on the team. With 11 seniors, including myself, we always had each other’s’ back. Through all the losses, arguments, faults, blood, sweat, and tears given for this sport, I would go back and perform with them in a heartbeat. They truly support me like no one else.

My heart belongs to exhibition drill. I’ve work so hard to master my craft and I love every minute of it.  In my four-year drill career, I’ve managed to pull out 10 first place solos, 2 second place solos, 2 third place solos, three first place tandems, two second place tandems, and two third place tandems. I’ve also qualified for The World Drill Championships for both solo and tandem. During my freshman year, exhibition drill was frowned upon on the team. “We’re not cheerleaders!” Is what I’ve been told, numerous times, regarding exhibition. While they found it unorthodox of the hand slapping, rifle twirling, and random chants during performances, I’ve always had a greater appreciation towards it. I made it my goal to leave Lebanon High School, with people having an appreciation towards exhibition drill. As of now, I do believe my goal has been not only achieved, but exceeded. I have freshman drillers wanting to learn ex. They would always tell me how amazing I am and how they want to drill like me! After hearing stuff like that, I know I did my job and I couldn’t be happier.

John Marshall, The DrillMaster, has heavily influenced my drill in numerous way. I remember listening to his audio critique for my MIODC 3 video and just being in awe. He gave me a, “new eye” for exhibition drill. I remember the biggest thing he taught me was layered movement: using multiple layers of your drill to perform, whether it is, upper body/footwork, footwork/ torso work, ETC… He brought the idea that there is more to the art of exhibition drill than just, “spinning the rifle.”  I rely quite a bit on Mr. Marshall to give me feedback on my performances today as well as over the years. His knowledge and eye for drill is impeccable and can’t be touched. After every solo performance, I always send my video to him and ask for a critique, and he delivers! He never leaves me disappointed, whether it’s with something I couldn’t see that hindered my drill, or a 42-minute long audio critique, I love it! Mr. Marshall is the first person I go to for critiques and it will stay like that for a while. I give a big thanks to you, The DrillMaster, for increasing my growth in drill. I wouldn’t be both a great performer, and a knowledgeable driller!

My long termgoals will be competing at The NHSDTC 2015 solo and dual event this year, with my dual partner Jonathan Wurzelbacher.  After high school is over, I will be attending Wright State University, where I’ll be majoring in marketing. I will join their AFROTC program and most likely join their drill team. I hope to be able to coach a newly formed drill team, while being in college, to help inspire the young drillers, in the same manner of how I was inspired.

Here are Chris’s critiques:

Posted on

The Cadet Series: American Military Cadets

A little-known program, but quickly gaining more and more exposure, is the American Military Cadet Corps (AMCC). It is just like US Navy Sea Cadets or Civil Air Patrol, but for the Army and like Sea Cadets, USAC offers hands-on real-world training just like Soldiers get. Pardon the expression but, USAC is Army JROTC on steroids.

Strength and Honor!
This motto is introduced to every cadet and adult volunteer, and they men it. Unlike the other non-JROTC cadet programs, AMCC cadre (adult volunteers) are brought on board as officers OR enlisted. At the time of this writing, I happen to be a AMCC Staff Sergeant (SSG). Why go the enlisted route? It’s up to the individual. Many who are already retired enlisted, choose to remain enlisted since that is where they can make the biggest impact- working day-to-day with the cadets. That is not to say that AMCC officers do not have an impact, but the enlisted side is usually more hands-on on a daily basis.

A Navy History?
Yes, AMCC, (formerly Army Cadets or USAC) actually began as a Navy-based program and then became the American Cadet Alliance which had Navy, Marines and Army cadets.

From the AMCC website:

The American Military Cadet Corps (AMCC) traces its heritage to the early days of the 20th century, making us the oldest nationwide Cadet program still existing today.  Our history and culture are steeped in the oldest traditions of Cadetting.  In those days, a group of veterans chose to create a military-style youth organization to give the young men of their community a chance for adventure.  The program was Navy based and taught boys good citizenship and patriotism.  This idea was the foundation of both the Boy Scouts of America and the American Cadet Alliance (ACA), the predecessor to the AMCC.

The American Cadet Alliance was founded as Colonel Cody’s Boy Scouts, by CAPT James H.C. Smyth on April 10, 1909, at the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY. April 10 is celebrated as the birthday of the Corps.

In 1911, the organization split into two organizations:  the Boy Scouts of America and the American Naval and Marine Scouts.  On Aug. 16, 1927, the American Naval and Marine Scouts was incorporated in New York state as the New York Junior Naval Militia.  Early in 1929, the organization split and Commodore Smyth and a number of senior officers left and on Feb. 19, 1929, incorporated the Junior Naval Reserve.

A Unique Situation
Unlike Sea Cadets, Young Marines and the CAP, AMCC is also part of Forest Hill Military Academy a full-time boarding and day school located in Millersburg, KY. Read more here.

Got Training?
They have training! Take a look at the summer 2015 training schedule: (contact me for special “DrillMaster Reduced Fees”!)

Troop Handlers Course ……………………………………. Jun 14-20
Basic Cadet Training – Session 1……………………… Jun 21- Jul 4
Basic Cadet Training – Session 2 …………………….. Jul 5 – 18
Basic Leaders Course …………………………………………Jul 5 – 18
Cadet Combat Engineers Course …………………… Jul 5 – 25
Cadet Ranger Challenge ………………………………….. Jul 5-25
Cadet Ranger School ………………………………………… Jul 26 – Aug 16
Tactical Leaders Course …………………………………… Jul 19 – Aug 2
Cadet Equestrian Program (NEW!!) ……………… July 26 – Aug 2
Cadet Military Police Academy……………………….. Aug 2 – 16
Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy …. Aug 2 – 16
Cadet Military Combatives Program ……………… Aug 2 – 8
Cadet Medic School (NEW!!) …………………………… Aug 2 – 8
Cadet Airborne Jump School (NEW!!) …………… Aug 9-15

Cadet Airborne School. Watch the AMCC site for updates!

[embedplusvideo height=”360″ width=”591″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/xjEldDA0ryI?fs=1” vars=”ytid=xjEldDA0ryI&width=591&height=360&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep7097″ /]
Posted on

Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them

DrillMaster's Ceremonial Shoes, poromeric, shoes, shine, mirror, corfam, corfram, taps, honor guard, drill team, cheaters, shine shoes, ceremonial shoes, poromeric, corfam, corofam, corofram, clorfram, clofam, clorofam, corpham, coropham, honor guard training, drill team training, how to shine poromeric leather shoes, how to remove heel and sole dressing
DrillMaster’s Ceremonial Shoes

Poromeric Shoes/Boots
The term, poromeric, refers to a class of breathable synthetic leather.

Corfam (not “Corfram,” “Clorfam” or Clorfram”) is made by the DuPont Chemical Company.

Clarino, manufactured by the Kuraray Company, is another synthetic high-shine leather found mostly in flagstaff harnesses.

Patent Leather, first created in England in the late 1700s, gained popularity after inventor Seth Boyden of Newark, New Jersey created his own version with linseed oil.

Whatever you wear of what is mentioned above, it’s all synthetic resins of plastics.

Pros: Never shine shoes again! Just keep the heel sole, and welts black with high-gloss edge dressing. You do not “shine” poromeric leather shoes, you clean them.
Cons: They can get HOT! If you are facing the sun for a long time, you may need to treat the tops of your toes for burns. Really. Wear two layers of thin dress socks or a thicker dress sock to protect your feet.

Note: to clean poromeric shoes and equipment that have scuffs or run marks, use Brasso.

 

If wearing leather boots and you want the mirror shine without the constant maintenance, use Leather Luster. Here are the directions to use it.

Shining Standard Leather Shoes/Boots
They can be tough to shine but, polish, a little water, cotton balls or an old cotton t-shirt are perfect for making leather shoes like mirrors.

Brand new leather shoes are perfect for shining. Sometimes there is an oil coating on the shoes that will hinder a shine. If so, it is best to remove it with some rubbing alcohol and a rag. Now you are ready to begin.

I first learned how to shine shoes from my dad, but to shine them to a mirror finish, Old Cadets taught me when I attended New Mexico Military Institute. We used Kiwi there and it always worked really well for us.

How to shine: Using shoe trees helps. Lightly wet a cotton ball, dab it in the polish and work the polish into the shoe making little circles. When the cotton ball starts to make scratches, get a new one. It takes many hours to build up a base coat of polish and then have it shine like a mirror, but once you have the base coat, you can easily touch up your shoes. If you are going to make all of the shoe mirror-like, be aware that as soon as you take your first step, where the shoe naturally bends with your foot, the polish will crack and flake off. So, you may want to limit the mirror parts to the heels, the sides and as much of the toe as possible, highly shine the rest- including the tongue!

[embedplusvideo height=”385″ width=”474″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1en1BeC” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/WiYdI7ec_Cs?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=WiYdI7ec_Cs&width=474&height=385&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep3581″ /]

 

Like the Tomb Sentinel said in the video, it is all about building up a base and when you first being it will seem like it takes forever, but as you progress, it will take less and less time to shine your shoes. If your shoes have leather soles, you will be able to sand the outside of the sole and shine it with shoe polish as well. If your soles are rubber or some sort of synthetic material you will have to use edge dressing.

Edge Dressing: Kiwi stopped making their Honor Guard Edge Dressing years ago as soon as the military transitioned to suede boots. Honor guard units now use Angelus Brand Roll Call Military Grade Edge Dressing which is available at Glendale.

How to Remove Edge Dressing: After a few coats with edge dressing, you will need to strip the welt (where the sewing is) and also the sides of the sole so as not to have that buildup that eventually looks terrible. For the outside of the sole, use steel wool to scrape away excess, a putty knife works well also. For the welt, you can use the putty knife corner, but be careful. Sometimes the edge dressing will flake off or come off in small chunks. If not, you may have to use Leather Luster Remover. Sand (very fine sandpaper is best) the sole and the side heel tap (if attached) so that it is even and then reapply the Angelus Edge Dressing.

The Sole
The man-made, synthetic lighter soles are not the most desirable for the military Driller but are the most prevalent. Leather soles are desirable. Make sure to blacken the sole if it is a lighter color.

Pros: Break-in period can be shorter than synthetic shoes/boots
Cons: Shinning them over and over and over and over.

Horseshoe Heel Tap
Horseshoe Heel Tap Closeup

Taps
Side heel taps
(“Cheaters” or “Clickers”) are great whether you execute closed-toe movements or use the traditional 45-degree angle. You can get different colors: silver, gold or black. Silver and black are great if you want shiny and black will need to be coated with the Angelus mentioned above. Note: if you have black and put edge dressing on them (which you should), it will chip off and you will need to strip the metal and reapply so it doesn’t ‘cake’ up. Attach them with black wood screws.

If you have cheaters that are shiny gold or silver in color, keep them shined and attach them with the same color sheet rock screws.

When attaching cheaters, you can put spacers (washers) behind them or screw them solidly into the side of the sole. Since these taps are curved, you can either match your heel curvature or put a space between the tap and the heel to see if there is better sound quality.

Horseshoe taps can be dangerous and mark up floors, but sound awesome- especially in a large formation. Ask any farrier, horseshoes need to fit a horse’s hoof exactly all the way around the hoof. Ask any cobbler, horseshoe taps don’t. As a matter of fact a cobbler usually offsets the tap into the center of the heel by 1/16 of an inch from the back and keeps a gap of 1/8 of an inch on the sides. Horseshoe tap sizes are for smaller and larger feet (heels) and nothing else.

Toe taps are excellent for creating sound marking time.

All of the taps and cheaters are available at Glendale!

poromeric, shoes, shine, mirror, corfam, corfram, taps, honor guard, drill team, cheaters, shine shoes, ceremonial shoes, poromeric, corfam, corofam, corofram, clorfram, clofam, clorofam, corpham, coropham, honor guard training, drill team training, how to shine poromeric leather shoes, how to remove heel and sole dressing

Posted on

Your Command Voice

Have you considered your command voice? Have you looked at your service’s manual and actually read about what it says on the proper way to call commands? No, it doesn’t say monotone is OK, it doesn’t say the gravel-in-your-throat style is a good style, it says use inflection, be clear and more! Read! Don’t rely on a senior cadet to tell you what you need to do (as with EVERYTHING else!)- read it for yourself!

“Well, I call commands like this.” “At my school we, [fill in the blank here].” Ever hear of standardization? That is what the military is about, standardizing. Your personal style, what you may think is really cool, does not matter. Stop it.

Click here to listen to some examples of commands in MP3 format and how to call them.

Also read this article, “Root Step” and Command Pronunciation.

When calling commands your voice should have inflection and NOT be monotone (some Navy cadets do this and I cannot figure out why). You should also enunciate each syllable and not leave off the first or last letter or substitute letters:

  • There is no such thing is “Righ, HACE“.
  • The USAF does allow, Forward, HARCH, (it’s in a picture, not text) the other services use MARCH.
  • There is no such thing as “A-Ten-Hut”, or any other number to bring a formation to Attention.
  • There is no need to growl your commands- that means you are calling from your throat. Stop, or you will have problems later in life.
  • There is no such thing is “Orward, ARCH“.

Here is a snippet from my book, The Honor Guard Manual.

Projection
•The ability of your voice to reach whatever distance necessary without undue strain.
•Voice is focused on the person farthest away.
•Assume the position of Attention, breathe properly, relax throat, open mouth and push the air out of your lungs from the diaphragm (place your hand on the top of your stomach, just under your ribcage and try to make those muscles tighten when giving commands).

Distinctness (Clarity)
•Distinct commands are effective; indistinct commands cause confusion.
•Clearly enunciate; use tongue, lips, and teeth to form words and word parts.
•Develop the ability to give clear, distinct commands. Practice giving commands slowly and carefully, prolonging the syllables. Gradually increase the rate of delivery to develop proper cadence, still enunciating each syllable distinctly.

Note: Honor Guard cadence is slow; approximately 90 beats per minute

Inflection
•The rise and fall in pitch and the tone changes of the voice.
•Starting at a normal speaking voice, pronounce the preparatory command with rising inflection.
•A properly delivered Command of execution should have no inflection.
•Command of execution should have a higher pitch than the preparatory command.

Precision
•Expresses confidence and decisiveness
•Expresses knowledge of commands and proper execution
•Commands are called at the proper time and in the proper manner

So, now that you have the info, straight from the manual, you will be able to properly call commands!

Happy drilling!