(Photo by Tom Strattman)

Debuts, memorials at color guard contest

The Legion's 2014 national Color Guard Contest was held Aug. 22 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Seven different groups made a total of 10 entries across three categories. Every group seemed to have its own story. The winners and runners-up by division:

Military Class - Open Category:

Harrisburg Post 472, Houston (competing in honor of their late guard member and post commander): 93.3

Post 291, Newport Beach, Calif.: 87.85

Military Class:

Dorie Miller Memorial Post 331, Orlando (at the national competition for only the second time): 83.65

George Whiteman Memorial Post 642, Sedalia, Mo. (seven-time Missouri state champions): 80.95

Advancing/Retrieving Colors Class:

Harrisburg Post 472: 91.3

Sons of The American Legion Detachment of California (competing in honor of their late original founding member): 84.6

Whiteman Post 642: 82.6

Rowan County Veterans Post 185, Salisbury, N.C. (the first group from this year's convention host department to ever compete in the national competition): 81.4

Miller Post 331: 81.0

Pine Castle Memorial Post 286, Orlando (celebrating their group's 50th anniversary): 79.8

Rowan County only entered, and thus started practicing for the competition three weeks ago. Squad commander William Craddock said, "We took it as a challenge due to that North Carolina had never had a group compete." Member Rebecca Forbes added, "We didn't do too bad." The normally 20-plus-member squad does more than 300 military funerals a year in its area.

Overall, the Houston post claimed its fifth straight championship and retained its status as the national commander's color guard. National Commander Dan Dellinger, just back from throwing the first pitch at a nearby baseball game, helped present the trophies.