I am tentatively scheduled to teach a DrillMaster Honor Guard Clinic the first weekend of December 2013 in College Station, Texas. Now is your chance to get in on my visit to Texas! Send me your information through my Contact page and we can work something out. This will help everyone involved save money and receive the best honor guard training based on my book, The Honor Guard Manual.
Also, for December, I will be in Louisiana, New Mexico and Arizona. Don’t miss this great opportunity!
Question: I have been searching for an answer to a question and cannot find it. I hope you can help me. The question is what is the meaning of a state flag draped over a coffin?
Answer: Hello James, thank you very much for the question.I’ve answered it here to help inform others who may have the same question.
The answer is quite simple. You may have recently seen caskets from the unfortunate event that took place in West Texas with the firefighters who were killed in the line of duty by an explosion. Their caskets were draped with the American Flag and one was draped with the Texas flag, but why? Those in charge of the ceremony were concerned with doing the right thing and draped the casket of the volunteer fire chaplain with the Texas flag. The firefighters were full-time, but the chaplain was a volunteer and the committee did not want to make a faux pas. And yet, all of the caskets could have been covered with the state’s flag because the firefighters serve their community within their state. A state flag on a casket (a four-sided box) or coffin (a six-sided box) is perfectly acceptable.
Firefighters and law enforcement officers serve their communities/state just as those in the military serve their country. Firefighters and law enforcement officers receive the honor of having their city, town or state flag draped over their casket while the military receives the American flag. Can the firefighters and law enforcement officers have the American flag? Yes, of course. Whatever the deceased or family wants. Because when it comes down to the bottom line, everyone serves their city, state and nation in some way, big or small.
In 2011, I published The Honor Guard Manual. At that time, I also coined the phrase, Semper ad Honorem which is Latin for Always for Honor. This is a photo of me from 2003 (there about) posting the POW/MIA flag while my wife and I was stationed at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa Japan.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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!
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To many in the honor guard world the term casket watch, is an unknown term. That is unless you are on an LEO, firefighter or EMS honor guard. These members have known of and performed a casket watch for many years for their fallen. Let’s get into what casket watch is and how it is performed.
There are three parts to a casket watch:
Watch Guard Entrance/Initial Post
Watch Guard Change
Watch Guard Final Watch
The members of the casket watch are:
Watch Members (These members can be specifically identified, if you choose)
If selected as part of the funeral protocol, two unarmed or armed (rifle, sword/saber, fire axe or pike pole) Honor Guard members watch over the casket of the fallen during the viewing or wake. In most cases these members take their positions at the foot and head of the casket at Attention/Stand at Ease. Depending on the duration of the viewing or wake, watch shifts established. The Watch Commander (WC) can be armed with a sidearm. If a WC is not present, either of the watch guards will call the commands. Armed/unarmed does not matter.
Watch Guard Initial Post
At the beginning of the first watch, two guards and the Watch Commander (WC) enter the room (from either side or the front) where the watch is taking place. For this manual we will assume an entrance from the front. All commands are subdued. No facing movements (except Three-Count About Face) or flanking. (If unarmed, ignore weapon commands.)
The Watch Guards and the Watch Commander enter the room and form up at the back of the chapel at Attention. The WC gives the subdued commands, Port, ARMS and, Step, and all three members begin marching toward the casket at Slow Time (60-90 steps per minute).
Within approximately four steps of the casket the WC gives the command Mark, TIME, beginning on a left step and ending on the next right step. On the next left step all three members begin their mark time. The WC calls, Guards, HALT on two consecutive left steps and the team halts (see the Colors Turn-halt for this). Alternativelywhen WGs are within four steps of the casket, the WC can call a long HAAAAAAAAALT on a left step and all members can then bring their right foot alongside the left and come to Attention.
The WC commands, Present, ARMS, and all three salute (with a three-second count up and down).
The WC commands, Port ARMS (or Order, ARMS if unarmed), and all three drop their salutes. Upon assuming Port/dropping their salutes, both watch guards then step off and move directly to their positions in the same amount of steps without flanking.
When each guard arrives, they simultaneously execute a Three-Count About Face and assume Stand At Ease.
The WC executes a silent salute, executes a modified Three-Count About Face (“T”, “L” Step) and departs.
The time between changes of the guard is entirely up to you. It is an honor to stand watch over a fallen comrade and as many who would like to should be given the opportunity.
NOTE: When changing Watch Guards, the guards should NOT salute each other, they are to only salute the flag/deceased.
The new Watch Guards and the Watch Commander enter the room and form up at Attention. The WC gives the commands, Port ARMS and Step, and all three members begin marching toward the casket at Slow Time (60-90 steps per minute).
Within approximately four steps of the casket the WC gives the command Mark, TIME, beginning on a left step and ending on the next right step. On the next left step all three members begin their mark time. The WC calls, Guards, HALT on two consecutive left steps and the team halts (see the Colors Turn-halt for this). When the new watch halts, the current watch come to Attention on the command of the guard at the head of the casket.
The WC commands, Present, ARMS, and all three salute. DO NOT SALUTE EACH OTHER, the salute is for the flag.
The WC commands, Port ARMS, and all three drop their salutes (for the salutes, the WC executes his/her salute with a three-second count). Upon assuming Port/dropping their salutes, both of the current watch guards then step off and move directly to their positions next to and outside of the new watch in the same amount of steps without flanking and execute a three-count about face. At the same time, the new watch moves directly to their positions at the head and foot of the casket, replacing the current watch. When all guards reach their spots, they all salute, on command and after dropping their salutes, and simultaneously execute a modified Three-Count About Face (“T”, “L” Step) and depart.
Casket Watch Guard Change: Entrance
Casket Watch Guard Change: New Guards Posted
Casket Watch Guard Change: Old Guards Move Inward
Casket Watch Guard Change: Old Guards and WC Salute Flag and Depart
Watch Guard Final Watch
The Final Watch ceremony can be used before the pall bearers enter the room to retrieve the casket for transportation to the burial site.
The WC enters the room and marches to a position approximately six paces from the casket, halts and gives a silent salute.
When the WC drops his salute, he calls the guards to Attention and each guard automatically posts in front of the WC to each side and simultaneously executes a Three-Count About Face.
The WC commands, Present, ARMS, and all three salute.
The WC commands, Port, ARMS, (Order ARMS, if unarmed) and all three drop their salutes and simultaneously execute a modified Three-Count About Face (“T”, “L” Step) and depart.
Final Watch: WC Arrival
Final Watch: Final Salute of the Flag
Final Watch: Departure
Why doesn’t the military perform Casket Watch?
The simple answer: it isn’t tradition. The only exception is in special circumstances like when a president dies and lies in state at the rotunda of the Capitol building.
All information and images are from The Honor Guard Manual (DrillMaster Press, 2012) and are (c) John K. Marshall
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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.
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.
•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).
•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
•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.
•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!
This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.