Rolling out red carpet
June 16, 2011
Soldiers are charged to support the commander in chief, President Barack Obama, through their dedicated service to the U.S. Some do it by laying their lives down daily in war torn countries. Others do it with flags and red carpet.
“When I’m at home watching Obama do his speech, I know the flags, streamers and red carpet came from us,” said Spc. Robert Norrington, Ceremonial Equipment Branch (flag shop) unit supply specialist, 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard).
The flag shop houses approximately 4,000 flags from every country, executive officer flags for all branches of service, and an assortment of uniforms from George Washington’s Continental Army to the present. The shop provides its materials in support of ceremonies ranging from the president’s speeches to arrival ceremonies of foreign dignitaries.
“We’re the ambassadors of all the equipment,” said Sgt. Jeff McQuiston, flag shop assistant noncommissioned officer in charge. “Anytime you see any type of ceremony on the T.V. and the flags that are flown or the equipment that is used, that was issued from our shop.”
McQuiston said one of the reasons he likes his job is the opportunity to assist multiple units from all services.
“We’ve serviced Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Lewis and SOCOM [United States Special Operations Command],” said McQuiston. “We’re the only flag shop in the Army.”
In keeping with the spirit of getting Soldiers what they need, Norrington said the shop was also able to reach out to a unit in Kuwait by providing them with a distinctive unit flag.
Although McQuiston and Norrington seldom attend the ceremonies they support, both agree working behind the scenes still has its benefits.
“We received a coin from the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, for helping with a mission at the Pentagon that did not require us officially, but behind the scenes, we assisted them with flags so the mission could go off,” said McQuiston.
“We have colonels, first sergeants and sergeant majors who come down here wanting tours of the flag shop,” said Norrington.
Even in those instances when Soldiers do not receive direct recognition, McQuiston mentioned the simplest acknowledgments are just enough.
“Last year, the vice president of the United States had a get together at his house and was very impressed with the 100 foot red carpet that was laid out on his front lawn. He couldn’t stop talking about,” said McQuiston. “It’s little things like that, that is rewarding.”