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Recruit Performance Divisions Return to RTC’s Pass-In-Review: Flag Division

25 August 2021

From Aviation Structural Mechanic Second Class Dewaylon Wilson, Recruit Training Command

GREAT LAKES - Recruit Training Command (RTC) returned to in-person guest attendance at graduation Aug. 13, 2021, for the first time in 17 months, and with that came the return of performing divisions, sometimes better known as 900 divisions.

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.

Performance division recruits carrying state flags march on the drill deck.
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Performance division recruits carrying state flags march on the drill deck during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Performance division recruits carrying state flags march on the drill deck.
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GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Performance division recruits carrying state flags march on the drill deck during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling
VIRIN: 210820-N-PL946-1120
Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command.
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command.
210820-N-PL946-1234
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling
VIRIN: 210820-N-PL946-1234
Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command.
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command.
210820-N-PL946-1267
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Sailors graduating from boot camp stand in formation after entering Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling
VIRIN: 210820-N-PL946-1267
Members of the recruit drill team perform during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command.
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Members of the recruit drill team perform during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Members of the recruit drill team perform during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command.
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GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Members of the recruit drill team perform during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling
VIRIN: 210820-N-PL946-1448
A Sailor embraces with a family member inside Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall after graduating from Recruit Training Command.
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) A Sailor embraces with a family member inside Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall after graduating from Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
A Sailor embraces with a family member inside Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall after graduating from Recruit Training Command.
210820-N-PL946-1603
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) A Sailor embraces with a family member inside Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall after graduating from Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling
VIRIN: 210820-N-PL946-1603
Sailors graduate from Recruit Training Command in front of guests.
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Performance division recruits carrying state flags await the signal to begin their presentation in front of guests during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Sailors graduate from Recruit Training Command in front of guests.
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GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Aug. 20, 2021) Performance division recruits carrying state flags await the signal to begin their presentation in front of guests during a pass-in-review graduation ceremony at Recruit Training Command. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling)
Photo By: Petty Officer 1st Class Spencer Fling
VIRIN: 210820-N-PL946-1077

“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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