Performing divisions are comprised of recruits in training who were selected upon arrival to boot camp to assist with graduations. They are divided into staff divisions, state flag divisions, and triple threat divisions, which is comprised of the band, choir, and drill team.
While the division title of “state flags” seems to be self-explanatory, a lot more goes into state flags then one would think.
“The biggest challenge that we face while training state flags is the ability to ensure that the trainings we are conducting on Saturday’s leading up to their performance does not interfere with their sole purpose of training to become a Sailor,” said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Sean Berna.
Once the screening process is over, RTC staff members can form performing divisions. The flag division provides the drumline to keep the cadence, the color guard to parade the colors, which include the American flag, Prisoner-of-War flag, and the RTC flag. Last, but certainly not least, flag divisions also consist of the 50 state flags as well as District of Colombia, Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.
Practice for the flag division starts on the first Saturday of recruit in-processing week and lasts all the way until the division graduates themselves. In the entirety of boot camp, the recruits dedicate 70 hours of training to make sure that they are not missing a beat on the days of performance. This is on top of the regular training that they must do in order to graduate boot camp.
“The transition from the first Saturday practice to their first performance on their sixth week of training is astounding,” said Berna. “It is quite an evolution to witness.”
The flags themselves are mostly for the families and guests in attendance to be included in another part of the graduation to further celebrate their new Sailor and where they are from.
“That’s where the parents go crazy about the different states, Texas normally gets the biggest ovation in that presentation,” said Senior Chief Damage Controlman Andre Sutherland. “They will put on a ceremony, and they will present each flag as they go down the line and call out each family.”
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearm, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy Heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp.
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc.
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