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Each of the five uniformed military services has a flag, which Color Guards carry along with the National Color in parades and ceremonies. Called Colors these flags are normally displayed in the offices of commanders when not in use for parades and ceremonies; however, in their official use they are not flown on flagpoles.

While there is no authorization for the flags of the five services to be flown by civilians, veterans and the families of active duty personnel often fly them to show their pride in our military and the service branches they symbolize.

When these flags are displayed together, they are displayed according to an Order of Precedence determined by the Department of Defense as issued in Department of Defense Directive No. 1005.8 (dated October 31, 1977). The Order of Precedence is based on the seniority of the services and has several applications. It is used to determine the order of march in parades, the order service songs are played and the order in which the service flags are displayed.

Department of Defense Directive No. 1005.8

By virtue of the authority vested in the Secretary of Defense, under the provisions of reference (b), and pursuant to agreement with the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Commerce, members of the Armed Forces of the United States and Merchant Marine midshipmen shall take precedence in the following order when in formations:

3.1. Cadets, United States Military Academy.

3.2. Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy.

3.3. Cadets, United States Air Force Academy.

3.4. Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy.

3.5. Midshipmen, United States Merchant Marine Academy.

3.6. United States Army.

3.7. United States Marine Corps.

3.8. United States Navy.

3.9. United States Air Force.

3.10. United States Coast Guard.

3.11. Army National Guard of the United States.

3.12. Army Reserve.

3.13. Marine Corps Reserve.

3.14. Naval Reserve.

3.15. Air National Guard of the United States.

3.16. Air Force Reserve.

3.17. Coast Guard Reserve.

3.18. Other training organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in that order, respectively.

Provided, however, that during any period when the United States Coast Guard shall operate as part of the United States Navy, the Cadets, United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Reserve, shall take precedence, respectively, next after the Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy, the United States Navy, and the Naval Reserve.

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