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Local honor guard presenting colors at Orioles game

July 26, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- The uniforms have been cleaned and pressed, and confidence is high as seven members of the Hagerstown Fire Department Honor Guard prepare to strut their stuff Saturday on a grand scale.

The group will present the colors for the Baltimore Orioles/Boston Red Sox game that night at Camden Yards.

"We find this a great honor to be on such a grand stage at a Saturday night game against a premium team," said Jim Kershner, a career Hagerstown firefighter.

A bus has been chartered for the occasion and a few seats remain, but there are no tickets for the game to go along for the ride, Kershner said.

The bus is to leave the South End Shopping Center at 3 p.m. on game day.

Ed Shindle, also a career firefighter for the Hagerstown Fire Department, said the honor guard that he heads dates back to at least 1993.

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Though first organized under the Hagerstown Fire Department, the honor guard was later taken on by Local 1605 of the International Association of Firefighters for financial support flowing from union dues and bonanza profits.

"We rely on the union for equipment," Shindle said, noting that several thousand dollars were recently spent on some brass accoutrements for the color guard. The members take care of their uniforms.

Kershner said honor guard members are paying for their own game tickets, which are expected to cost $35 each.

As commander of the 13-member honor guard, it was Shindle's difficult duty to choose the seven members who would be in the honor guard for the Saturday game.

"I chose two of our retirees -- Mitch Gearhart and Rich Jordan," he said.

The other five guard members who will be in the honor guard at the game are John Crist, Steve Mitchell, Rick Conrad, Bob Maurer and Shindle.

Shindle said he made inquiries to the Orioles organization offering the honor guard's services and was told to pick three possible dates.

"They gave us a great date," Shindle said, referring to the matchup between the Orioles and Red Sox. "We understand there could be a celebrity singing the national anthem that night."

After the honor guard completes its duties, the members will change their clothes and be spectators for the rest of the game, Shindle said.

The honor guard is called upon to appear at funerals and at other events, such as a recent Washington County Sports Hall of Fame event and a flag-retirement ceremony in Williamsport.

The other members are Zach Schmidt, Gary Hoffman, Mike Muir, Devon Gay, Deron Malcolm and Deanna Pelton.

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