A Joint Armed Forces Color Guard and drummers from The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps presented the colors during the national anthem at the NFL Draft in Las Vegas, April 28, 2022.
“Standing on stage during the anthem, holding a salute, and looking out over the immense crowd of people in front of us, I was profoundly inspired by the unity, patriotism, and pride of all those in attendance,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Brooks from The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. “To be there representing the Soldiers of the U.S. Army and service members around the globe was a tremendous honor.”
Each member of a joint color guard carries their respective service color (military-branch flag) with attached campaign streamers. The color guard's flank men carry M14 rifles.
“When the national anthem stated playing in front of half a million people and I was holding the Army colors, it gave me goosebumps, truly an amazing moment,” said Sgt. Eduardo Ortiz. “It means a lot to represent the entire U.S. Army here because it was once a dream for me to be part of this organization.”
The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps provided two drummers to accompany the colors and represent a time in history when drummers accompanied the colors to keep troops in step, assist in ceremonial duties, and signal movements on the battlefield.
“My favorite moment of the week was just moments prior to taking the stage when Hall of Famer Michael Irvin went out of this way to personally greet and thank each of us for being there to represent all of the service men and women stationed around the globe,” said Brooks. “The respect and courtesy shown to us by current and former players, celebrities, and fans is a reflection of our relationship with the American public.”
Specially selected from the honor guard units of each military service within the National Capital Region, these Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen, provide ceremonial support and excellence throughout the Washington, D.C. area.
“Right before going out on stage, I was feeling the pressure of bearing the National Colors in front of the entire nation,” said Staff Sgt. David Weston, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the color guard. “But I love my job and take pride in it, so I took a deep breath and the whole team went out and crushed it. It truly means the world to me to represent the United States Army to the nation, while bearing the National Colors. My favorite moment was immediately following the national anthem when the entire audience erupted into cheers and applause – so loud the team could barely hear my calls, despite being as loud as I possibly could.”
Rigorous training and the highest standards ensure each member of the team is prepared for every mission. Each member of the color guard acknowledges the privilege of representing their fellow service members and services.
“Right before we went on stage, I was thinking about all of the Marines back at the Barracks, my family and friends who were watching the draft and would see me out there,” said Cpl. James Lilley. “As always, it’s an honor to represent the Marine Corps as the Marine Corps Battle Colors bearer.”
Most members of the team said that if they had not been selected for this mission that they would be watching the Draft at home with friends, but admitted being there in-person changed their perspective of the event.
“Just before going on stage, I was thinking how cool it was that I was about to be sharing the stage with these players, mostly my age, who I’ll be watching play on TV later this year,” said Seaman Norman Dusseault. “Everyone on that stage was the next generation of Americans, from service members to football players. My favorite part was seeing how much these football players went out of their way to say hello to us as representatives of our respective services. It shows how distinctly American this game is and how much it brings us together. In that same vein, looking out into the crowd, all sorts of fans supporting rival teams came together to celebrate this great sport and have a good time. It was a meaningful sight to see, especially with so much division these days.”
On behalf of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Military District of Washington also coordinated Joint Armed Forces Color Guards to support the NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl LVI earlier this year.
“We continue to embrace our relationship with the NFL as they continue to highlight the skills, capabilities and talents of the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Jeremy Kern, public affairs officer, U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “Community outreach is a crucial Department of Defense activity that reinforces trust and confidence in our military.”
The service members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard are from U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial and Guard Company, Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, Navy District Washington, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, Telecommunications Information Systems Command Center, Alexandria, Virginia; U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C.; and the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.
As the official ceremonial units for their respective services, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard Honor Guards routinely participate in ceremonies at the Pentagon, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, national memorials, throughout the National Capital Region and across the country.
The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is the only unit of its kind in the U.S. Armed Forces and is charged with maintaining some of America’s oldest music traditions. Created in 1960, as an element of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the Corps is one of only four Army premier bands and is stationed at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.