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Military Order of Precedence

More commonly called Joint Service Order.

The following is from DoD Directive 1005.8 dated 1977 (most current).

3.1. Cadets, United States Military Academy.
3.2. Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy.
3.3. Cadets, United States Air Force Academy.
3.4. Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy.
3.5. Midshipmen, United States Merchant Marine Academy.
3.6. United States Army.
3.7. United States Marine Corps.
3.8. United States Navy.
3.9. United States Air Force.
3.10. United States Coast Guard.
3.11. Army National Guard of the United States.
3.12. Army Reserve.
3.13. Marine Corps Reserve.
3.14. Naval Reserve.
3.15. Air National Guard of the United States.
3.16. Air Force Reserve.
3.17. Coast Guard Reserve.
3.18. Other training organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in that order, respectively.

Provided, however, that during any period when the United States Coast Guard shall operate as part of the United States Navy, the Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Reserve, shall take precedence, respectively, next after the Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy, the United States Navy, and the Naval Reserve.

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Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them

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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!

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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

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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Joint Service Order of the Colors

Joint Service Order

The regulation that directs this order of precedence is Department of Defense Directive 1005.8; Order of Precedence of Members of Armed Forces of the United States When in Formations, dated 31 October 1977. The more interesting part of the story is the history behind why that precedence is observed by the Department of Defense.

Seniority of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps is obscured by the divergent elements of the intentions of the Continental Congress as compared to the realization of those intentions. Although the intention of the Congress to establish an Army is apparent in several resolutions of June 1775, the realization of those intentions was not effected until 01 January 1776 when General Washington stated in his orderly book, “This day giving commencement to the new Army which in every point of view is entirely Continental.” Likewise the Navy which the Congress created by resolution in October 1775 was not to be realized until several months later. The process of procuring and outfitting ships as well as enlisting and commissioning personnel was a time consuming one.  The commander in chief of the Navy and other officers were not commissioned until 22 December 1775.

The Marine Corps, on the other hand, even though established by resolution on 10 November 1775, was actually a force in readiness before the Army or the Navy. Samuel Nicholas was commissioned a Captain of Marines on 28 November 1775, a month before the first officer of the Continental Navy was commissioned. In fact, the only facts that correspond to the present parade order of Army, Marine Corps, and Navy respectively are the dates when their first officers were commissioned, in June, November, and December of 1775. Indeed, the Marine Corps’ claim to being the oldest integral force in being results primarily from fortunate circumstances. The Corps was much smaller and more closely knit than either of the other services, and its origin was not complicated by the existence of provincial and local forces already in the field.

Thus, the Continental Marine force was all regular Marines from the beginning during the period when the Army was an amorphous mass of mixed Continentals and militia, and the Navy lacked ships.  The Marine Corps, therefore, could be considered the first truly “federal” armed services branch of the United States of America. In any case, the present order of parade precedence has become one of our foremost military customs and as the foregoing has indicated, there is little evidence to support any change in that order. The present order of parade precedence is defined in DoD Directive 1005.8 as Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. Therefore, by analogy, the order of display of colors in any fashion, to include service branch seals, should be in the same order.

There are other lines of reasoning for the precedence of Marine Corps colors before Navy colors, but these versions are less popularly accepted as the above. Here are two:

  1. The foundation of the Continental Navy is recognized as being on 13 October 1775 when Congress authorized the outfitting of two vessels “of ten carriage guns.” This is the date we quote as the Navy’s birthday. The Marine Corps was established the following month, on 10 November 1775.  Jump ahead to 03 June 1785 when Congress authorized the sale of the one remaining naval vessel, the frigate Alliance. This was the end of the Continental Navy. For the next several years, the nation had no Navy, until 27 March 1794 when Congress authorized the construction and purchase of six frigates. This is the foundation of the U.S. Navy as we know it today.
  2. Although the Continental Navy was established by Congress on 13 October, 1775 – it disappeared when Congress had the Continental Navy’s ships absorbed into the War Department. The Department of the Navy, which today encompasses the Marine Corps, was not established until 30 April 1798 – well after the 10 November 1775 establishment of the Marine Corps.

Service flag order by date:

ARMY 11 July 1775 *The Navy officially changed to this date, prior to that they were a younger service than the Marine Corps.


MARINES 10 November 1775
NAVY 13 October 1775*
AIR FORCE 18 September 1947
COAST GUARD 4 August 1790

Joint Service Order information is courtesy of

Members (in Joint Service Order)

A color team may consist of more than two flag bearers. The color team is formed in a single-file rank (abreast) from the right to left with the right rifle guard in the first position, followed by the US, State, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Police, Fire, EMS and the left rifle guard.


  • The CTC must not assume Attention when calling commands. The CTC must perform all of the movements with the rest of the team.
  • Ceremonial cords are for static display on flags only.
  • Call the supplementary command of Colors, for all commands whenever performing in funerals or with other elements (ex. Colors, Present, ARMS).
  • Never use bayonets or swords on a color team!

All information is from The Honor Guard Manual and except where noted, is (c) John K. Marshall

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Yes, it is another Joint Service Drill Competition that is now in the history books! This year’s competition also included a performance from the Tulane University Mardis Gras Drill Meet champions, the Merchant Marine Academy Drill Team.

I judged each team on the World Drill Association Adjudication System’s Overall Effect caption. The scores I gave each team are in the parenthesis next to the team’s name. The score is out of 100/100.; the “what/”how.”


Merchant Marine Academy (50/45)
The cadets wowed the audience with their ability to have lift two cadets in the air and have them drill! This performance was a fist for the JSDC and also for the MMA. Congratulations to them for this ground-breaking performance with the service drill teams!





Coast Guard (55/54)
The Coasties put on a fine performance departing from their standard performance from previous years. I must say that I really appreciate the new program, it contained some very effective moments and was programmed much better than before. I talked with the Coast Guard judge before the competition and let him know that I understood the issue that the CG Honor Guard has: The Coast Guard is the smallest service, the Honor Guard is the smallest unit of the service honor guards and is the drill team is made up of volunteers who practice when they can. All of the members are trained on every aspect of honor guard ceremonies (pall bearer, firing party, colors) and perform each of the duties constantly. Drill team is not high on the priority list which is very understandable. Still, I really enjoyed this new routine!



Marines (60/71)
These guys had a bad day, or at least some of the guys who were constantly hit by bayonets, had a bad day. Unfortunately, problems were an unfortunate addition to the Silent Drill Platoon’s routine. The Marines have completely mastered their basic manual and can execute these rifle movements in their sleep. This was the standard SDP routine with the crowd favorite rifle inspection.





Navy (70/72)
A good performance. I didn’t notice much if any change from previous years’ routines. However, the Sailor performing the solo did a super job- until his bayonet met his aiguillette. He still kept going not allowing the “wardrobe malfunction” to interfere with the rest of his solo.






Air Force (80/80)
Wow. I was so impressed with their newer routine: much better programming and some excellent rifle work from all members of the 12-man team. The AF never had a reason to create a 12-man team/routine until now. The JSDC time limit is 15 mins and the AF’s 15-man routine is about 21 mins. What to do? Start on 9 April with a new routine! Yes, a week of training went into this performance!

The crowd loved the moment during the tetrad (pictured below) when the four Drillers poked the commander with their bayonets trying to make him move- he was rock-solid, of course! The Air Force team was this year’s winner!







Army (82/81)
The defending champions marched an SPC Andres Ryan-written drill. This routine had it all: great transitions, eye-catching movements, four soloists and then SPC Ryan as the featured soloist!










Yes, that’s right, I had the Army winning for the third year in a row! But, it was not by much…

I was so fortunate to meet onlookers who were curious about the competition and about my uniform, students, parents, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and my fellow judges from each service. What a day, what a blessing!

See you next year!

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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.

•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

•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!

Happy drilling!