Marine platoon training question

I’m watching Full Metal Jacket for the hundredth time, and i noticed that there is one flag bearer who marches at the front edge of the platoon.

He also stand with the flag while the rest of the platoon goes through their rifle drills, and he isn’t required to do any of the rifle manuevers loke the rest of the company.

How is this person picked, and does it rotate throughout the platoon? Or is it an honor that is earned by the best soldier in the platoon and he keeps the flag as long as the DI’s feel he should keep it?

I would think that this would be both a blessing and a curse, but to know that you would not get your ass chewed for screwing up rifle drill would have to be somewhat of a mental relief for the flag bearer.

Thanks for any info.

First point: In the US, Marines aren’t Soldiers. They’re Marines. We have different terms for the members of the different armed forces:

[ul][li]Army - Soldier[/li][li]Navy - Sailor[/li][li]Marine Corps - Marine[/li][li]Air Force - Airman[/ul][/li]
I’ll let someone who was in the Coast Guard post the correct terminology for their folks.

Next, the dude or dudette running with the platoon pennant and the pennant itself are called guidon. For some of the rifle drill, the guidon (the person) is required to perform certain actions with the guidon (the pennant), such as present arms (a form of salute). When I went through BCT, the guidon duty was rotated through all the members of our platoon.

Air Force vet here. When I did basic, the guidon in my flight was the same person all the way through training. He was also the guy that was best at executing all the marching commands.

The guidon bearer is usually a taller person, so that his actions can be easily seen by everyone in the platoon (or more likely, the company). When preparatory commands are given by the platoon/company leader, the guidon raises the flag vertically, basically giving notice that an execution command will follow. When the execution command is given, the flag drops back to the carry position, i.e. “right flank. . .” (flag raises), “march!” (flag lowers).

During a parade, the platoon/company commander salutes as he passes the reviewing officer after the command “eyes…right!”. The guidon raises the flag at the “eyes” command, then snaps it down on the “right!” command to a vertical ‘present arms’ position for the pass in review. After passing, the PC commands “ready. . .”; the guidon grabs the flagstaff in preparation; “front!”; the guidon snaps the flag back to the vertical position.

The guidon doesn’t carry a rifle, but does marching drills with his platoon. Hope that all helps.

[quote=“Monty, post:2, topic:682170”]

First point: In the US, Marines aren’t Soldiers. They’re Marines. We have different terms for the members of the different armed forces:
I’ll let someone who was in the Coast Guard post the correct terminology for their folks.

I don’t remember any guidons in Cape May but I’ve spent 30 years trying to forget those 9 weeks.

In USMC boot camp the flag was the guidon and the Marine carrying it was called the guide. This was in 1980. The guide was a position of honor selected by the DIs. In my platoon we had two guides. The first one was doing a good enough job but then later lost his job when there were a few COD commands that he struggled with. The second and final guide for our platoon was meritoriously promoted to PFC on graduation day.

Same here, except for the 30 seconds that I replaced him. I guess the TI was just messing with him or me, but I was grateful that it was a short promotion. I hated being out front.


Right. It was interchangeable with “right guide” in the Navy. Disregard my references to the person as a guidon.

Thanks for the answers, everyone.
Was it a pain in the butt, or was it easier than doing anything else that was being done at the time? Was it heavy? Did you have to run with it, or was it only something to hold and to walk/march with?

Also, was it regarded as sacred as the American flag, where it couldn’t touch the ground, it had to be folded a certwin way (not sure that would be feasible since it was so Much smaller than the American flag), and was it stored somewhere special each evening? Also, was it with you for the entire day, every day, or was it only used during certain activities?


I was never a guide but I marched near the front of our boot camp platoon and I knew our guide (the second one) pretty well. It wan’t a pain, it was special and an honor. It was different because the manual of arms, marching (COD), and facing movements were all different. On PT formation runs, the guide carried the guidon. It’s not heavy - maybe 2 or 3lbs? Just a guess there, from what I remember carrying one. Later on in my career I led the unit’s color guard for a while.

Yes, somewhat sacred in the sense that the guidon was the unit’s flag, so you took care of it. Not as sacred as the US flag, though. The guidon, no, you don’t let it fall on the deck. Folding? I’m not aware of any need to fold it. As you say, it’s small.

At night and when not carried, like after having marched to chow or to a class, it was put in a guidon stand for display outside the chow hall / classroom / obstacle course, etc. At night in the squadbay, I don’t recall exactly but I think it was held in a stand.