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

Honor Guard Training Q and A with The DrillMaster

Do you have an honor guard question?

I am happy to answer it!

Q: We already have 9 people committed to being on the Honor Guard. Is there a minimum/maximum that is desired?

A: For my courses, yes, 20-25 trainees. For an honor guard, no, not really. Most of what you will do will be colors presentations for ceremonies and parades. A color team needs 4 people as the minimum. Actually, you could march a 3-man team, if need be, with just the American flag, but that is not usual. Six or 8 members are required for pall bearers and a firing party is made up of a minimum of 4: one commander and three to fire. Pall bearers can make up the firing party, so if you had a funeral, then you would need at a bare minimum, 4 for the color team and six for the pall bearers/firing party. If you have a LODD, I’m sure you won’t have any problem finding more volunteers that you could train to carry the casket and then post off to the side somewhere while the rest of the trained honor guard perform the ceremonial duties. Part of the course is training in the six-man flag fold and you can record it and use it over and over for your internal training. I’ll also teach your team the 2-man flag fold which is much easier to perform, especially at the last minute.

Q: We were hoping to coordinate with a local pipes and drums band to be present for some of our services, is that something you could provide feedback on during the academy as far as how to go about including that?

A: Pipes and drums are part of the honor guard family, but perform separately. It would be relatively easy to include them in any kind of ceremony as you would just work out a certain signal with the drum major for them to play. I don’t think you would need my help with that, although this is a legitimate question (as are all of your questions) for a team that is just beginning.

Q: We as of yet have no equipment.

A: I suggest purchasing equipment first. Equipment is very necessary, distinct uniforms are not (read below for my explanation).

Q: We will be purchasing uniforms, and I am wondering if they should differ from our Dress “Class A” uniforms? Should the uniforms be purchased and tailored prior to the training?

A: Having completely different uniforms requires quite a bit of money (www.lighthouse.com is good). I think this should be last on your list, here is what I recommend: 1) obtain equipment; 2) secure training; 3) distinctive honor guard uniforms at some point in time. You could make your Class A uniform distinctive by adding an Honor Guard arc to the left/right shoulder and a shoulder cord or aiguillette to the left for a fraction of the cost of outfitting your team with new uniforms.

Q: Regarding the rifles, should one be purchased for every member?

A: A color team requires two rifle guards. I think it would be a good idea to have four or even six riufles so that more members can train at the same time with the rifles. I also suggest that you obtain the same number of colors, staffs and harnesses.

Q: How much time do you need ahead of time to prepare for the course and scheduling?

A: I can be ready in as little as two weeks and think it would be good for you to order your equipment, setup a tentative training date, advertise it to other state departments to get 20-25 trainees and then get with me when you have the funding to take care of the training- I want to emphasize that, if you want to, you could run two one-week academies and have half of your team trained each week while having the other 10-15 trainees coming from other departments, thereby defraying your costs considerably while having only half of your team off their normal duties. Just food for thought.

Q: I just want to verify for our training that the cost is all inclusive for your fees/travel/room and board?

A: Yes, everything is included in the cost: course fee, travel, room and board.

Q: Would we be conducting the graduation mock funeral at a cemetery?

A: I’ve had a mock funeral at a funeral home and one at the front of a public library. Anywhere you would like, we can probably work it out.

color guard, colorguard, color team, honor guard, explorer post, scout, judging, firefighter training , LEO training , police training, sheriff, marshal, border patrol, EMS, ceremonial, merchant mariners, multiservice, joint service, honor guard training
Posted on

Putting Things into Perspective

“We won!”

Those words are great to hear and sometimes even better to yell. I knew the feeling of “winning” at drill meets throughout my four years of high school AFJROTC; my team swept every meet and so did I as the team’s commander for my last two years. It was hard work, fun and I learned quite a bit. But what did we really “win”?

I went to Agua Fria Union High School in Avondale, AZ (’79-’83) and our most intense rival school was a MCJROTC unit from Tolleson High School. Our unarmed teams were always neck-and-neck. It was a good rivalry and kept us on our toes the whole school year. The other schools in the Phoenix and surrounding areas attended most of the same meets that we did. The only school to come close was our rival that I mentioned above, the other schools always came in behind us. Our instructors (CMSgt Broomhead- not making that up- and Lt Col Lorenz) always had some great music waiting for us on the bus ride home and we would sing/yell the words to We are the Champions by Queen and Celebration by Kool and the Gang.

Then we went to the Southern California Drill Meet and had an attitude adjustment. I think we took home a third place trophy in one of the phases of the competition. We left dejected, but guess what our Chief did? He had the same music waiting for us on the bus? “But, we were ‘losers'”, we thought. We were never “losers” in the sense that the world sees it. We practiced for two hours every day after school all through the school year and even had some Saturday practices thrown in. When we went to SCIDM, we entered a competitive area to which we had not been exposed and we learned great lessons from that experience and applied those lessons to our training so that we could be a better team than before.

The same goes for you and your team. I am very happy for teams and cadets that post pictures on Twitter and Instagram showing off their trophies. The same goes for the teams that post pictures after a competition without a single trophy, but smiles all round. You did it, you both “won”! Kudos to you!

Drill Team

Picture from Twitter

Now let me explain how to put things into perspective.

The world is all about “winners”. Ricky Bobby’s father said, “You’re either first or you’re last”, as he drove away in that silly movie Taladega Nights. But later on, he made the comment that he had been wrong in his thinking. Now, I’m not suggesting taking meaningful life lessons from every movie that you can watch, but sometimes there are very pertinent ideas that can come across. Sometimes.  But his second statement later on in the movie was absolutely right on the mark of truth: there is no such thing as, “first or last”. Competition is great and it is meant to, as I wrote earlier, keep you on your toes.

You are meant to keep training, keep studying and be the best that you can be. THAT is winning. Getting up early to exercise and get in some extra practice. THAT is winning. Paying attention when you are practicing regulation drill for the millionth time. THAT is winning. Not losing your cool when training new cadets who just can’t seem to figure out that you pivot on the left foot for a right flank. THAT is winning. Not getting angry, not throwing your rifle when you still can’t get that Hawaiian Punch. THAT is winning. Knowing that you did your very best in a performance and, “leaving it all on the drill deck”. THAT is winning.

You don’t need a trophy or ribbon to know that you are already a winner when you are going that extra mile and if that is all you are going for, then there is something missing in your approach to the what the World Drill Association calls, the Sport of Military Drill.

Don’t fall into the trap that society tells you: “You’re either first, or last.” It’s a lie. Everyday accomplishments make you a “winner”.

Now, go practice.

Posted on

Ask DrillMaster: State Flag on a Casket?

honor guard training: state flag on casket
The TX State Flag on a Casket from MSN.com

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.

Again, thanks for the question!

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!