The tradition of the opening and closing flag ceremonies is a feature of every NTM. Over the years a sort of standard ceremony has evolved. All the participants are formed up with the detachment commander (DetCo) out front to take the salute of the senior officer who is reviewing the troops. The band plays the national anthems of all the participants while their respective flag is raised (traditionally by the junior officer of the detachment). Even if a squadron has not yet arrived on day 1, their flag is raised as well. At the opening ceremony the base commander and/or the visiting General makes a short welcoming speech and the visiting general then opens the meet Olympic style.....'I declare the 200X NATO Tiger Meet open'. After the general leaves, only the host squadron commander makes the 'Tiger -Tiger -Tiger' call which dismisses the participants. The traditional flag ceremony at the end of the meet has sometimes been modified to lower all the flags at the same time during the playing of the host’s national song.
Each squadron always tries its best to bring at least one two-seater to NTM. The squadrons then trade backseat rides, so there is usually plenty of opportunity to “check out the competition”. This is one of our best customs.We believe that the flying program at NTM must be everything else but traditional. You know what they say about practicing to fight the last war. We have been in the past and should remain in the future as current and far ahead thinking as we can be when building scenarios for our COMAO missions. Our HQ’s are always interested to see in the after action reports that we flew such missions as CSAR, escort, hostage rescue support, precision attack, border defense against superior forces, TASMO, CAS, support of Special Ops, high-value asset protection, etc. Remember these COMAOs are in addition to the regular morning range, DACT, and low-level navigation sorties.
Of course all those pictures and plaques on the wall back at the squadron are from the gift exchanges at the NTM. There’s not much to say here except it’s a great tradition that will never die. On the other hand the squadron historian (or at least the guy who decorates the squadron recreation room), really appreciates getting objects, rather than pictures and plaques. Some squadrons are running out of wall space. It has become standard for each detachment commander, when called forward to receive the host’s gift, to, in-turn, present his gift to the host.
DRESS AND SPECIAL TIGER ADDITIONS
This is an area where old traditions abound. Our normal dress is of course the flight suit, and work uniform for the ground crew. Most squadrons have the famous tiger scarves, and many have a special nametag with some sort of a reference to tigers on it. If not exactly legal at your home base, there are those squadrons that have a special nametag they wear during NTM. Any other kind of modifications to tiger flight suits, like big tiger heads sewn on the back, or tiger striped “vents/pleats” also never fail to bring big smiles to all. All the ground crews have also shown lots of spirit with “special additions” to their work uniforms. Another old tradition is the special headgear worn on arrival day. French berets, American cowboy hats, German spiked helmets, Portuguese bullfighter hats, RAF leather helmets, and others have been seen in years past when the canopies pop open. Never fails to show spirit.
This is a fairly recent tradition. It first started at the 94 NTM at Cambrai. The new tradition is that on a certain weekday evening an International Night is scheduled (hopefully early in the NTM so the various foods stay fresh). This is the night when each squadron shows off the foods, drinks, music, and dress typical of their native country. It is displayed on tables around a big hall (hangar), and served in small portions to everyone else, who of course go from table to table, enjoying the special tiger ambiance that enhances such an evening. Can anyone forget the raw herring from the Dutch, the raclette (and big horn) from the Swiss, the old Porto from 301 squadron, three different kinds of pasta from the Italians, good old typical sausages from Germany, special cured hams from Spain, and of course great beers from Belgium, „Moose Milk” from Canada, those onion sandwiches from Czech Republic, the delicacies from Turkey, and Champagne and oysters from La Belle France. Thank God the Brits only bring beer!!