View Full Version : Station color gaurds extend honor, courage, commitment

07-25-04, 07:36 AM
Station color gaurds extend honor, courage, commitment
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification #: 200472214813
Story by Cpl. T.D. Smith

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR,Calif. (Jul. 22, 2004) -- Color guards serve many purposes such as ceremonial or community relations and display the Marine Corps' rich history.

Under the influence of British custom, American infantry had a junior officer, known as an ensign, to carry and guard the regimental colors.

Each company had an ensign and there were eight companies. The ensigns took turns guarding the flags. Eventually, these color guards were selected from the strongest and bravest soldiers.

Later, enlisted men instead of officers performed this task.

The task is now considered an honor and a privilege, explained Sgt. Dexter Williford, aircraft rescue recovery and firefighting dispatcher, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. "You should volunteer for the guard because it represents tradition and pride in the organization that you represent. Who could serve as a Marine and not want to hold our nations colors or the Marine Corps colors? These aren't just pieces of cloth. These are our emblems," he said.

There are other benefits to volunteering as well. "You really can't put the feeling into words. When we do a ceremony for a retirement or some retired Marine needs us for a ceremony and we actually come, the look on their face makes the time spent on our off duty time well worth it," said Williford. "The reaction (from civilians) is always positive and they are really surprised when they find out just how easy it is to talk to a Marine."

Sergeant Woodrow Brown, training noncommissioned officer, H&HS, agreed with the positive response of civilians.

"The little kids just flip. It is great to see their reaction when they see a Mari ne color guard for the first time," he added. "At a recent ceremony, where we were at attention, I heard a little kid ask, 'Mommy are they alive?' It was difficult not to lose my bearing."

Occasionally, some of the events covered offer food and beverage. As an additional benefit, meeting retirees and listening to their experience can be educational and entertaining. Also, social events may be a great way to network for future friends or careers.

Leadership and drilling skills are acquired while serving on a color guard. The senior Marine gives all of the commands and the team has to work together in precision movements and timing.

The pride doesn't come easy. A lot of time and dedication goes into performing on a color team. "We want people to know (before they volunteer) it is time consuming. We practice for practices. Often there will be a formal practice the day prior to an event and the official party will be there and you want to look good in front of them," said Brown. "Practices are for mistakes. There is no room for mistakes in an event. The team has to bring its 'A' game. You may not be the Silent Drill Platoon, but you can act like it."

While the practice and preparation behind a color guard may be time consuming, there are many benefits to volunteering, like a good feeling from a positive deed, and the action of performing this function is steeped with history and tradition.


A color guard from Marine Corps Air Bases Western Area, containing a color bearer from Marine Corps Air Stations Miramar, Yuma and Camp Pendleton presents the colors during a change of command ceremonny here June 18. Changes of command are just one of many events the color guard takes part in. Photo by: Cpl. Jeff Zaccaro