Doug Swartz

Commanding Officer


Instructor Swartz is a native of Ohio but currently lives in Seminole, Florida with his wife and daughters. Doug is the Founder and Commanding Officer of the National Honor Guard Academy and has been a member or instructor of honor guards for over 30 years. After nearly 20 years in the fire service, Doug has retired from that calling to fully focus on teaching and honoring those that serve. Doug has established and assisted with the development of several honor guards and is involved nationally with honor guard ceremonies and funeral response. Doug established his department’s first Honor Guard shortly after joining Clearwater Fire Rescue in 2001 and it has quickly gained national recognition. He is involved on the State and National level with both Honor Guard and LODD Response Planning. Doug is the Chair for the Florida Fire Chiefs LODD Committee and leads the State Response Team to assist departments with handling an LODD. Other notable affiliations include: Board Member/Regional Director for the National Honor Guard Commanders Association, Honor Guard Command Staff for the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Weekend, Member of Advisory Committee formed for the development of the DOJ/NFFF State Response Teams and National Response Plan, and assists with the Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial through his membership in the Florida Fire Service Honor Guard Association. Getting his start in the United States Marine Corps, where he ascended to serve as Battalion Colors Sergeant, Doug never lost the passion for what the honor guard stands for and continues to share it with dedicated individuals across the country. 


Hal Grout

Executive Officer/Academic Officer

Instructor Grout has been an Instructor with the Academy since 2006. Hal has worked for the East Hartford (CT) Fire Department since 1989 and currently holds the position of Chief's Aide.He has over thirty years of involvement with Fire and EMS agencies and has been a Paramedic since 1987. He began his Drill and Ceremony training as a Bagpiper in 1993 and graduated from the National Public Safety Honor Guard Academy in 2005. Still an avid piper, he is currently playing with the Manchester Pipe Band and has competed in the World Pipe Band Championships several times. Hal is currently the Commander of the Connecticut Statewide Honor Guard and a Command Staff Member for the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.   Hal has committed himself to the performance and education of Public Safety Honor Guards all over the country.   He strives for perfection, and prides himself on attention to detail in all aspects of his life. Hal Lives in Enfield, Connecticut with his wife Deb and two children, Sydney and Jameson. His children have followed in their father's footsteps in playing instruments in pipe and drums bands. Sydney plays tenor drum and Jameson plays the snare drum. Hal enjoys spending time with his family and sharing their love for the Boston Bruins and New England Patriots.  


Jason McNamara

Senior Drill Instructor

Instructor McNamara was born and raised in Massachusetts and currently lives Roanoke, Virginia with his wife and son. He served with the United States Air Force Security Police (1988-1998), where he traveled aboard Air Force One and Air Force Two. McNamara continued his commitment to service when he left the Air Force and began a career in law enforcement. Since joining the Roanoke County Police Department in 2001, he has served as a general and firearms instructor, field training officer, and member of the SWAT team. Jason joined the Department's Honor Guard in 2003 and became the team coordinator in 2013. Jason has a passion for drill and ceremony, which is evident in his dedication to driving new police recruits, organizing regional honor guard trainings, and teaching NHGA classes. His passion, integrity, and commitment to serving others are valued assets to his Department and the NHGA staff. 


Toby Martin

Publicity Officer/Host Liaison

Instructor Martin, his daughter and two sons live in Roanoke Virginia where Toby is an Operations Battalion Chief with Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department. He has been associated with the fire service since 1989 serving ten years as a volunteer before becoming a career Fire Medic. Toby is an Academy graduate and a Charter Member of his department’s Honor Guard that was established in 2006. He currently serves as the Coordinator for Roanoke’s Honor Guard and is a member of the Virginia Local Assistance State Team that assists public safety departments that suffer a Line of Duty Death. Toby’s attention to detail and commitment to honoring our fallen is exemplified in his service to assist as an Honor Guard Commander for the Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service and the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation Memorial Weekend in which he served as the Honor Guard Branch Director in 2017. His devotion to the fire service and the Academy is evident through his phrase used during the 2017 Memorial which was Line 6 of the Sentinel’s Creed, “my standard will remain perfection”.


Tim Pelton

Executive Staff Advisor


Tim currently resides in Connecticut with his lovely bride of nearly 50 years. He credits his wife as being the most understanding woman on the planet, and they have raised a successful daughter together. His family first approach is one of the cornerstones that the National Honor Guard Academy is built on and no doubt has had a profound impact on him and his family. As a Mental Health Specialist, Tim recognizes the importance of prioritizing life’s many missions and that keeping family and self care centered is the key to maintaining balance. 

He has been involved with the Academy since it’s inception back in 2006. First as a student, then an instructor, and currently serves as Advisor and Consultant to the Executive Staff. Following his service in the US Navy, Tim pursued a career and life of public service before retiring from the fire service as Assistant Chief of Cheshire (CT) Fire Department. During his tenure he also served as 2012 Branch Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend and went on to be the Honor Guard Executive Officer for the Memorial Weekend from 2013-2019. Tim was honored to receive the title of Commander Emeritus of the Connecticut Statewide Honor Guard following many years of service to that organization and assisting countless agencies and individuals during some of their most challenging times. He is an author and successful entrepreneur but most of all he is a shining example of service before self. Tim is always eager to teach and takes every opportunity to share the passion for honoring those who serve.