The U.S. Army Military District of Washington (MDW) receives hundreds of ceremonial support requests each year. The requests range from local organizations asking for color guard or musical support all the way to events on a national level. To kick off 2023
MDW sent a Joint Armed Forces Color Guard, representing all six branches of the military, to the College Football Playoffs National Championship Game where the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs took on the University of Georgia Bulldogs on January 9, 2023 in Los Angeles.
This request marked the first opportunity that MDW has had to present the colors at the National Championship game.
“First, it’s an honor [to be at the National Championship game] but there is also pressure that comes with it,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Hall, a Colorado native. “How we perform determines whether we get the call back next year. So we are striving to be the best we can today.”
Hall, a member of the Continental Color Guard Platoon, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), has only been with his platoon for eight months.
“This is my first national event that I’ll be doing,” said Hall. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve heard stories from other people doing like the Super Bowl and the various All-Star Games so this is a big deal.”
As the Non-Commissioned Officer In-Charge of the color guard supporting the game, Hall was responsible for ensuring the presentation of the colors was flawless.
“I enjoy bringing everyone together and getting their input,” said Hall. “I am open to ideas because I’ve only been in the Continental Color Guard for going on eight months now so I still have a lot to learn, and I’m learning every day.”
Experience is not something the team lacked. Sgt. Major Brian Spurgeon, a percussionist from the U.S. Army Field Band, has been in the Army for 19 years and has played concerts in 49 of 50 states and four countries, marched in five presidential inauguration parades, and has supported a handful of national level events like this game.
He is a wealth of knowledge and enjoys sharing his experience with those around him.
“Working with the younger Soldiers…It’s awesome,” said Spurgeon, from River Falls, Wisconsin. “It’s a great dynamic. I love helping people along. I love influencing, if I can, and just being a good example. I try to just represent the best I can.”
The team of eleven all share a common goal: represent U.S. service members to the best of their ability.
“We are all brothers-in-arms and we all have a common goal for this: to represent the military and to represent our individual services as best as we can,” said Spurgeon. “I can guarantee when we all start suiting up everybody is going to be looking at each other’s uniforms making sure that everything is in the right place, there isn’t any lint or wrinkles. We are all going to be helping each other out because it’s bigger than each individual person.”
While a playful competitive nature among the branches of the military is often evident, all service members come together for serious business when they come together in support of “Old Glory.”
“I think for those who get selected to work at their respective branches honor guard or color guard they have an understanding of what they’re here for,” said Sgt. Cameron Williams, Marine Barracks Washington. “Every branch has the things they love about their branch and for us to work together to have a unified purpose I think that’s the greatest thing that one can do while serving. It’s definitely an awesome experience.”
Williams, from Jacksonville, Florida, is currently serving as the 40th Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps. In 2022, he was assigned to the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard who presented the colors at the Super Bowl which was also held at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
“I definitely had some ‘oh, I’ve been here before’ moments when we were walking in the stadium, which is good and bad,” said Williams. “You don’t want to get complacent. Those butterflies are always still going to be there because you have thousands of people staring at you.”
Those thousands of people at the stadium that Williams mentioned weren’t the only eyes on the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard. Millions of fans from across the nation and around the world tuned in live to see the games on ESPN.
“The way we look, the way we act, the way we operate says everything about us,” said Hall. “Just like today whether we perform well or not is going to give the whole nation a chance to look at the military and see what perfection is.”
For Hall, the NCOIC of the Color Guard, perfection was not just executing the movements on the field with no mistakes, it is being flexible and thinking on your feet.
According to Hall, trying to attain perfection means handling issues as they come, being quick thinkers and performing everything to standard.
While the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard looked pretty close to perfection on the field, Georgia played about as perfect a game as possible to defeat TCU, 66-7, making the Bulldogs back-to-back National Champions.