CRANFORD, NJ – The Cranford VFW Color Guard has bounced back from a membership drop and hopes to find new members for their regular performances in parades, ceremonies, football games and more, according to a press release sent by the VFW.
Cranford’s VFW Post #335 has boasted its award-winning color guard for many years following the post’s opening 97 years ago. As membership from WWII veterans lessened, the guard sank to one performance a year with unseasoned members. However, the tides have turned for Post #335.
“Armed with newly discharged Afghanistan/Iraq vets and boosted by some older Vietnam standbys, the Post #335 Color Guard has once again emerged as one of the premier groups of that type in the Central Jersey region,” the press release reads.
For the past year, the group has practiced every Saturday in the post home and its parking lot. The training is led by Color Guard Captain Brauleo Lorenzo, who was in the Marine Corp Color Guard.
“We decided we were not just going to be a so-so group of vets carrying old rifles and flags,” Lorenzo said. “We wanted to be sharp and make our P\post proud. It was something we really wanted to work for.”
The group’s practice has focused on drills with an emphasis on discipline and muscle memory.
“It was really tough at first,” Vietnam vet Lee Blowe said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve shouldered a rifle like that and performed all the commands, but it slowly comes back and so do the aches and pains.”
Recently, the color guard performed in parades in Cranford, Plainfield and South Plainfield. They presented the flags at a veteran’s ceremony for the New York Jets and orchestrated a presentation at a WWII Navy Veterans reunion in Elizabeth.
Additionally, the group marched at the Cranford High School football team’s home opener and last year's graduation, which group members cited as a favorite.
“Marching out onto the field with the colors flying and your home town fans clapping just makes all the work worthwhile,” Afghanistan veteran John Grainger said.
The color guard continues to practice every Saturday and is seeking new members to join their organization and Color Guard. Those interested can call the post at 908-276-9730 or visit the post on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
“We find that the comradery among the members is a big driving force for them,” Post Commander Jay Boxwell said. “They criticize and praise each other all during the practices and when things go right, they celebrate as a team. It’s a great group of guys.”