MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club honored Marines during an Aug. 4 race day.
The club color guard, made of retirees Sgt. Maj. Steve Meyers, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Guiles and Army Maj. Pete Brunhaver, opened the races with a unique colors ceremony.
As the club bugler sounded the first note of the Marines’ Hymn, Meyers pulled a nylon string causing the Marine Corps colors to shoot into the air within fractions of a second. The effect puzzles the audience and brings them to a thunderous applause.
“We are the only sporting event that does this,” said Meyers. “We have a lot of pride and enjoyment doing this. We do it in support of veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.”
Meyers spends about five minutes expertly preparing the flag for display. He folds the colors in a zig-zag fashion, making parallel folds in opposite directions. He then wraps four rubber bands around the folded colors and ties them to a string.
The flag is unseen to the audience as it follows the national ensign up the flag pole. When the respective organization’s anthem plays, Meyers pulls the nylon string, breaking the rubber bands and the wind does the work from there.
“The wind sometimes gives us problems,” said Meyers, “but when it works for us, the crowd loves it.”
The Thoroughbred Club has been flying the nation’s colors for many years but it was not until the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism when they started weekly celebrations for each military service.
Meyers approached the Thoroughbred Club about organizing a color guard made of the security detachment, which is comprised mostly of retired military personnel.
The club accepted Meyer’s request and service members have been honored every week since.
“We want to say thank you,” said Joe Harper, president of the Thoroughbred Club. “Anybody who has made these sacrifices for this country deserves our gratitude. This is the least we can do.”
During the event, Marines from Marine Medical Rehabilitation Platoon, Headquarters and Service Battalion here, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Light Attack Training Squadron-303, Camp Pendleton, received special treatment from the Thoroughbred Club.
The Marines relaxed in a VIP suite reserved only for special guests. The club treated the Marines to free food and drink, and offered them each a bag full of Del Mar racing memorabilia, to include a $90 T-shirt and a $20 pen.
“I was shocked when I walked into the suite,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Peterson, who served as an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, or “Suicide Charley” during tours to Al Qaim and Hit, Iraq. “I’m not used to getting this type of treatment.”
Some Marines placed bets and watched the races from a birds-eye view. The races may have been unfamiliar to some, but one lucky Marine won $50 from a bet.
Marines also toured the facility where they met several racers and learned about the equipment they wear.
During the fourth race, Marines were brought to the winners’ circle for a close view of the race. Afterward, they were recognized before the audience. Two bag pipers played the national anthem and the Marines received a standing ovation from 12,000 fans in attendance.
“I had a blast,” said Peterson, from Paramount, Mich. “It is awesome that people think this much about what we’ve done and that they put a lot of time and money aside for us.”
Harper invited the Marines to return to the track any time with free admission.