JACKSONVILLE, FLA. –
Onlookers stand as they witness feet march and guns flip in unison, while flags are presented to the crowd. Whether present during the Navy’s most prestigious ceremonies, sporting events or other commemorative gatherings, the local community often gets the privilege to witness the Navy’s prized flag’s presented with precision and professionalism by one of the best color guard teams in the Navy Reserve.
The Navy color guard tradition has been upheld so professionally by Navy Reserve Center (NRC) Nashville’s color guard team that they have been asked to cover many high profile events, including a Tennessee Titans game and a Memorial Day ceremony with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
The NRC Nashville color guard team is made of Sailors who volunteer to present the flags at funerals, ceremonies and events. NRC Nashville’s team is led by Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Katherine Gibbs and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Devin Southivong.
“It means the absolute world to me to be able to lead the greatest group of Sailors who take the time out of their day and their personal lives to attend these funerals and events,” said Southivong. “I am extremely proud knowing these Sailors I send to these events are the most squared away Sailors I know. I send them to these events with confidence knowing they will make me, the command, and the Navy as a whole proud for willingly attending these events. They all know to take initiative and exceed expectations every time, upholding the high standards we have at NRC Nashville. We are constantly receiving praise in the form of letters and phone calls for attending these events.”
Because of the high visibility of the important public events they support, the team depends on every member exuding pride and professionalism, and, above all, attention to detail.
“I always make sure to emphasize how important color guard is and the high standards we have to have when we are in the public eye,” said Southivong. “From there I’ll choose members based off their willingness and their qualifications. Most events are coordinated with civilians and/or veterans, so maintaining professionalism is my biggest priority. The United States Navy is a professional organization and I always plan to project that image for us.”
Everyone joins the Navy and color guard for different reasons, but one thing in common unites the entire team: they stay in the color guard because they love representing the Navy and showcasing their command in a positive light.
“Participating in the color guard has given me the opportunity to not only represent the military in an honorable way but to also to give back to the Navy that has done so much for me in my life,” said Personnel Specialist Seaman Apprentice James Orrell. “The color guard is an important duty to commemorate the sacrifices that have been made by active duty, reserve servicemembers, veterans, and their families in support of our country”
Whether at a funeral or and a sporting event, the color guard always makes an impact on someone in the crowd and being a part of that means something different to everyone participating.
“Color guard means being able to be proud in what I do. I get to represent the Navy and also give people a positive outlook on the military in general,” said Gibbs. “From being in parades, retirement ceremonies, professional sport games, to memorials I have been able to speak to a variety of people and make them smile by us being there. I get to volunteer and feel like I’m doing more than just being mission ready.”
Not only do Sailors get good experience, lessons and teamwork from participation in the color guard, but it helps them in many other ways.
“I believe color guard has brought me out of my shell as a junior Sailor," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Emily Selby. "It has brought a sense of honor, pride, and enjoyment to my time in the Navy, and has helped me become more comfortable when speaking to the people who ask us questions before and after an event. I remember being nervous at my first event because I did not want to be the one who messed everything up because I was new, and had not been a part of color guard for long. However, the training, tips and confidence I was given from my superiors and Shipmates increased my confidence with the program and team.”
No matter the reason for starting or continuing to serve in NRC Nashville’s color guard, the members of the team will always look back and remember these opportunities to serve their country and display old glory proudly during a multitude of important milestone events.