Hometown Heroes: American Legion Post 38 Scarlet Guards

By Terry Kovarik | terry.kovarik@wearegreenbay.com

Published 02/10 2014 10:48AM

Updated 02/10 2014 11:03AM

APPLETON (WFRV) Whether it's American Legion Post 38 meetings,firing a salute to start Appleton's Memorial Day parade or paying tribute to departed veterans, Post 38's "Scarlet Guard" strive to add a patriotic feel to all events they're invited to. That's been this color guard's mission since it's founding in 1983, which was inspired by Post 38's earlier unit.

"I had noticed down the hall here the Brass Hats. That was the old marching unit from the World War I veterans," said Clyde Jenkins, a post World War II U.S. Navy veteran.

"Raise the patriotism in this community. And we thought the best way to do that was to create a color guard," said John Veritzman, a U.S. Air Force medic during the Vietnam War.

John Veritzman and Clyde Jenkins are two founding members still active with the Scarlet Guard. The team started from scratch and got needed coaching from a former leader of "The Americanos" drum and bugle corps.

"And we practiced and practiced, often every week. We went to several department competitions. We weren't very good at first," Vertizman said.

"These guys were excellent because we took ten straight state championships," Jenkins recalled.

The Scarlet Guard's ranks cover the World War Two era, Korea, Vietnam and both Gulf Wars. Claire Kopczynski is active in the Army National Guard. She deployed to Iraq in 2009. and sees the Scarlet Guard as another way to serve.

"The opportunity to bring a sense of patriotism, make that accessible to the community, put a home town face on it is something really important to do," she said.

For veterans like John Veritzman, the Scarlet Guard have helped heal post war wounds.

"When I came home from Vietnam, there weren't too many people who were proud of us. Now it's really great," he said.

Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.

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