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When in Doubt, Salute!

The title of this article served me and many others very well for many years. If you don’t know, a salute won’t hurt. If you don’t salute, you could get an ear-full.

“That’s Disrespectful!”
SaluteSaluting with the left or right hand has nothing to do with being disrespectful. The salute, in and of itself, no matter which hand is used, is respectful. The US military uses the right hand for a reason and that reason is utilitarian, not an issue of respect. Here is the history of the American military’s salute, courtesy of the US Army Quartermaster Historian.

No one knows the precise origin of today’s hand salute. From earliest times and in many distant armies throughout history, the right hand (or “weapon hand”) has been raised as a greeting of friendship. The idea may have been to show that you weren’t ready to use a rock or other weapon. Courtesy required that the inferior make the gesture first. Certainly there is some connection between this old gesture and our present salute.

One romantic legend has it that today’s military salute descended from the medieval knight’s gesture of raising his visor to reveal his identity as a courtesy on the approach of a superior. Another even more fantastic version is that it symbolizes a knight’s shielding his eyes from the dazzling beauty of some high-born lady sitting in the bleachers of the tournament.

The military salute has in fact had many different forms over the centuries. At one time it was rendered with both hands! In old prints one may see left-handed salutes. In some instances the salute was rendered by lowering the saber with one hand and touching the cap visor with the other.

The following explanation of the origin of the hand salute is perhaps closest to the truth: It was a long-established military custom for juniors to remove their headgear in the presence of superiors. In the British Army as late as the American Revolution a soldier saluted bv removing his hat. But with the advent of more cumbersome headgear in the 18th and 19th centuries, the act of removing one’s hat was gradually converted into the simpler gesture of grasping the visor, and issuing a courteous salutation. From there it finally became conventionalized into something resembling our modern hand salute.

As early as 1745 (more than two-and-a-half centuries ago) a British order book states that: “The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass.”

Whatever the actual origin of today’s hand salute, clearly in the tradition of the US Army it has always been used to indicate a sign of RESPECT – further recognition that in the profession of arms military courtesy is both a right and a responsibility of every soldier.

When and Who to Salute
Protocol requires a salute to the following:

  • President of the US
  • Commissioned and Warrant Officers
  • All Medal of Honor Recipients
  • Officers of Allied Foreign Countries

Render a salute for the following:

  • US National Anthem, “To the Color”, “Hail to the Chief”, or the playing of any foreign national anthem
  • When national colors are uncased outdoors
  • Reveille and retreat
  • Raising and lowering of the flag
  • When honors are sounded
  • Pledge of Allegiance – outdoors
  • When reporting
  • When turning over control of formations
  • Arrival and departure ceremonies for state officials

Authorized Left-Handed Salutes
Left SaluteDid you know that there are only two authorized salutes for the American Military? Along with the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps drum major, Boatswain’s Mates are authorized to salute with their left hand when piping a senior officer aboard a ship in either the Navy and Coast Guard. The pipe is held in the right hand when played, and the salute is rendered with the left hand.

Left Salute Fife Drum MajorThe Drum Major as well as the unit he leads, follows Revolutionary War standards of drill and ceremonies. That’s why the left-hand salute and the fact that his salute has the palm facing forward.

No one else is authorized to render a left-handed salute, but is there an exception? Yes. Any veteran missing their right arm is not going to be lectured as to the “proper” way to render a salute.

What about the “Latte Salute”?
While each American President is most likely briefed on how to properly render a return salute, it is not something a President is supposed to do. Actually, any civilian is not supposed to return the salute. President Ronald Reagan began returning the salutes rendered to him (he had a great deal of respect for the military) and it has continued since.

But, what about Exhibition Drill?
There is no such thing as an “authorized” move or position in exhibition drill. Judges: in the case of exhibition drill, please put away your perceptions of “right” and “wrong” that are based on what you have learned through the military. Cadets: have fun creating, but don’t allow something that someone else has created to become “absolute law” for you or your team- JROTC cadets have a great tendency to never pick up the manual and only learn by observation. Hence, what one sees must be how “it” is accomplished and no one can tell them any different.

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How to Restart a JROTC Drill Team

drill team traiing: XD Cover 2AExhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team
The First Book for Drill Team Training: XD Cover, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team

I received this question over the summer of 2014. It is always relevant, though!

Question: I’m a freshmen going into my sophomore year, also to my let 2 year in JROTC. I was wondering if you can give me tips and/or advice for starting up an exhibition team. Because in my freshmen year, at my school’s drill meet, I conducted one routine for alternative arms. It was OK, but I knew we could have done better. It was very last minute, unorganized and stressing. My team only practiced for not even a whole week, and the meet was on Saturday. Yes, I know… But that’s why, I was wondering that, maybe with your help and expertise, you can maybe help me start up exhibition again in my school. By the way our JROTC program hasn’t seen a drill trophy in years. Seriously, anything you say will help.

DrillMaster’s Reply: You have this summer to prepare for this coming school year and three more years of school which is perfect! Here is what I recommend.

1. Always first is educating yourself and your teammates.
2. You must have a plan to effectively move forward with your individual and team progress.
3. Put that education into practice. You must begin much earlier in the year.

First you and your team MUST download and read the latest edition of your service drill and ceremonies manual. Go to my website, www.thedrillmaster.org, and click on the Downloads tab. There, you will find all kinds of downloads, including all three of the latest D&C manuals. You and your team must perfect regulation drill, unarmed and armed. Once you have accomplished that, then move into exhibition drill.

There aren’t any exhibition drill manuals except for my books. which are here, http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/drillmaster. I do have many articles for drill teams on how to create effective routines, what to do and what not to do when it comes to marching, but the books have so much more. This summer I’ll be publishing two more books specifically on how to train others in regulation drill and color guard- you are actually the first to know about these two books!

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Have you wanted to Write for the Military Drill World?

Drill team training and honor guard training at its best!
Drill Camps, Honor Guard Academies, Drill Team Training & Coach Certification

In 1990 I began my first book, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team. I didn’t know that it was going to be a published book, I thought I’d write out a few drill moves and offer it to whoever wanted a copy- for free. However, in 2009, with a big shove into the unknown from my wife and my daughter, I finally published what I call XDI. I never considered myself a writer, how was I to know?

Fast forward to 2014 and I have written over 1000 articles and am working on books 8-12. So, I guess that qualifies me as a writer now and maybe you are in the same boat; you have an idea, but don’t really know how to get it out there. Well, that’s where I come in.

Under the name/title, The DrillMaster, I have created education, training and certification programs for members of the military drill world and here is another program: guest writer for this blog.

A guest writer would write on any topic that is within the realm of military drill: regulation, exhibition, ceremonial- or maybe you have thought of another tie-in on one of the above subjects that has not been covered here, something new and you have wanted to reach Drillers each day around the globe.

Dozens of people from around the world read this blog each day. Depending on the time of year (the school year, specific holidays or ceremonial-type days), this blog, as of 2014 averages over 600 hits per day.

If you would like to, write. Use the articles here as a guide and provide a picture or two or even a diagram with your article. When you think you are ready to have it published on this blog, send me an email through my Contact page stating that you are interested and I will get back to you right away so that you can forward me the article(s) you have in mind.

Get paid to write?
Well, not exactly. But if I do feel that your article would be a good addition to the next edition of my book, Filling in the Gaps, then I will send you a copy of one of my books that you choose while giving you full credit in the book- your name will will be in print as a contributing author!

What are you waiting for? Get writing!

Need I say it? No plagiarism…

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The DrillMaster: Drill Team and Honor Guard Training

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The DrillMaster is the military drill world’s education and training specialist writing the only books for the military drill world including a comprehensive manual for honor guards and a complete manual on how to properly judge military drill competitions.

The DrillMaster trains military-type drill teams, Drillers and honor guard units.

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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!

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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

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!

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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.

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!