By Stephanie Reyes, Staff Writer
For members of the Air Force ROTC drill team, presenting the flags at Baylor football games is more than just standing in the middle of the field when the national anthem plays. For members, it gives them the opportunity to display their love for the country and their American pride.
Tucson, Ariz., junior and drill and ceremonies officer and drill team commander Austin MacDonald said he decided to join the drill team because he saw it as an opportunity to become excellent in drill. He added that drill is a large part of the evaluation process at officer training camp, also called field training by members.
“I just really love drill, and it looks super cool when you do it well,” MacDonald said. “[Drill] is a way to train cadets in discipline, in following orders and acting on a dime.”
To become part of the drill team, members must first be part of the ROTC’s drill team and go through an eight-week process, which ends with an evaluation. Throughout the process, members learn how to use a rifle, march and how to do drill team events, among other things. Baylor’s drill team currently has 18 members consisting of sophomores, juniors and seniors, MacDonald said.
The drill team duties range anywhere from presenting the flags at football games, doing saber arches at weddings, doing funerals and presenting the colors at various events throughout the Waco community. Four members hold the flags on the field, which includes one member holding the American flag, one holding the Air Force flag and two holding rifles on the side.
“[At Saturday’s football game], rain or shine, we’ll be out there presenting the colors,” MacDonald said. “It will be harder for our guys to hold the flags in a rain storm, but they’re gonna do it.”
MacDonald said holding the flag is important to him because by holding the American flag he is able to show his patriotism to others.
“Being able to hold it and have it above all other flags and just present it to people at the stadium is amazing,” MacDonald said. “It just makes me really proud to present the flag.”
Vacaville, Calif., sophomore and drill team member Shane Anthony said he decided to join the drill team because he wanted to get involved within the Air Force ROTC.
“Joining the drill team is a very prestigious organization,” Anthony said. “I wanted to get really good at marching.”
Anthony said the reason members present the colors is so people have a visual representation of the American flag.
“We want to give [people] something to look to other than the flag that is always there [in the stadium], so that they understand that it is a special occasion that we’re doing the presentation of the colors,” Anthony said.
Anthony said holding the flags at the football games is important to him because it is a prestigious position and it gives him the opportunity to hold himself to a higher standard.
“It’s definitely an honor because I’ve always held a great respect for the American flag and this country,” Anthony said. “Being able to present the colors is definitely an experience. It was a really big deal for me because it was in front of a lot of people, and it was kind of scary at first but then as we we’re doing it, my butterflies disappeared.”
Clyde Hill, Wash., junior and drill team member Katherine Matthews said decided to join the drill team because it is a great way to show the community that the military has a presence and purpose even within student life at Baylor. Matthews that being part of drill team allows members to build confidence, character and their drill abilities.
“I really like how precise all the drill movements are and everything we do with presenting the colors, or even with the rifles, how we walk and stand, how we wear our uniforms is all very precise,” Matthews said.
Matthews said holding the flags is important to her because it is a huge responsibility and it gives members the opportunity to honor the American flag properly. She added that she wants readers to know that its important that when the American flag is being presented its time to remove your hat, put your hand over your heart and stand quietly and respectfully.
“We’ve had a lot of people tell us that they’ve never seen the colors presented in that way or they didn’t know that’s proper flag procedures,” Matthews said. “It’s neat to be able to show people that and share my knowledge and expertise with them in order to honor the flag.”