News Stories

Joint Service Color Guard members honor flag, nation

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Yudy Palacios Defense Information School


A service member holds the U.S. flag, leading other service members carrying the flags of their military branches. To the left and right, there are two more service members, each one holding a rifle.

The U.S. flag stands tall as the service flags are lowered slowly in unison to a 45-degree angle. The rifles move to the front to stand with the national ensign.

For a moment, the flags remain in place, in perfect alignment. Then, slowly, the service flags are raised once more.

The rifle bearers return their rifles from present arms to right shoulder arms. With a facing movement and a command, the color guard members march away, in synch and united.

Members of the Joint Service Color Guard of the Defense Information School on Fort Meade are practicing in the school’s Hall of Heroes for a performance at 10 a.m. Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – at the Maryland National Guard Armory in Annapolis.

The color guard is made up of service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. They have different backgrounds, but they come together for ceremonies to honor the flag and the nation.

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Sandstrum, an instructor at DINFOS, is one of the members. Marine Corps Sgt. Melissa L. Karnath and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Bryan Weyers are others.

Sandstrum has been in the color guard for about three years and participates in a ceremony about every two months, he said.

In May, he and other color guard members observed Memorial Day at Oriole Park in Baltimore, performing before the national anthem.

The color guard is so fun and interesting that he would participate in it every day if he could, Sandstrum said.

Karnath, a combat correspondent with the Defense Media Activity at Fort Meade, joined the color guard about two years ago, bringing some related experience with her. At her last duty station, she played in the band.

During her time in the DINFOS color guard, she has participated in  Veterans Day ceremonies, a Pearl Harbor remembrance day and other events, such as the school’s 50th anniversary ceremony.

The Pearl Harbor event was particularly moving, she said.

“Knowing that I could make the day more special, or more memorable,

or more reverent for them, that makes me feel good,” Karnath said.

Weyers, an instructor at DINFOS, joined the color guard a year ago. He said it was something new for him to be a part of.

“It is an honor to the services and to the service members who, in the past and the present, have served our country,” he said.

The color guard members practice before every performance, as they did Nov. 9.

Their presence will make the Veterans Day ceremony in Annapolis complete, Karnath said.

“You take some time to acknowledge, that you are serving America and that veterans have served America to keep our country free and protected,” she said. “It helps to remember that people gave their lives in service to the United States of America and its people.”