The United States Marine Corps Color Guard includes the National Colors, carried by the Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps and is the only official Battle Color of the United States Marines.
A duplicate is maintained in the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps in the Pentagon.
The Battle Colors bear the same fifty-four streamers authorized for the Marine Corps as a whole. These streamers represent U.S. and foreign unit awards as well as those periods of service, expeditions, and campaigns in which the Marine Corps has participated from the American Revolution to today. During the Marine Corps' first 150 years, Marines in the field carried a variety of flags.
It was not until 18 April 1925 that Marine Corps Order Number 4 designated gold and scarlet as the official colors of the U.S. Marine Corps. These colors, however, were not reflected in the official Marine Corps flag until 18 January 1939 when a new design incorporating the new colors was approved. This design was essentially that of today's Marine Corps standard, and was the result of a two-year study concerning the design of a standard Marine Corps flag, and the units to which such a flag should be issued.
The fifty-four colored streamers which adorn the Battle Colors represent the history and accomplishments of the Marine Corps. The newest streamer to be added to the Battle Colors is the Iraq Campaign Streamer, awarded for service in various Iraq operations beginning in 2003.
The Color Sergeant carries the National Ensign during ceremonies, the Presidential Color for all White House State functions and tours and carries the National Ensign with the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment. He heads the Marine Color Guard Section of Company A, Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., which performs for parades, ceremonies and official functions around the United States and abroad.
The Color Guard section has five teams and often participates in more than 1,000 ceremonies annually, regularly two to eight per day.
The Color Sergeant billet is usually a two-year tour open to sergeants in all Military Occupational Specialties who meet the 6-foot, 4-inch minimum height requirement, can obtain a White House Security Clearance and possess the leadership skills to head the section as its noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
Though the post was filled in an unofficial capacity up to that point, official tracking of the Colors Sergeant began with former Color Sergeant, Gunnery Sgt. Shelton L. Eakin, who was promoted to lieutenant meritoriously, and later killed while serving in Vietnam. A memorial trophy dedicated in his honor bears the names of Eakin and all Color Sergeants to date, and is passed to each new Color Sergeant.