News: Small town welcomes MCG with open arms
Story by Pfc. Samuel Ranney
CODY, Calif. - The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., journeyed more than a thousand miles to present our nation’s colors for an exceedingly patriotic town in Wyoming, June 27.
Sergeant Edgar Torrealba, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the MCG, Sgt. Jacey Marks, Sgt. Joel Richards, and Cpl. Bryanna Kessler, stablemen with the MCG, along with Norman, John, Cho, Dean, Rookie and Reno, their faithful steeds, left California’s High Desert for Cody, Wyo., to participate in their traditional Fourth of July festivities. These celebrations included: presenting colors at five rodeos, participating in the Cody Kiddies Parade, two Cody Stampede Parades, and making a variety of appearances throughout the town.
This year marked the 75th anniversary of the Cody Night Rodeo, explained Larry Johnson, the Stampede board president, who has been working with the board for 18 years. It is one of America’s most prestigious rodeos; people travel from all over the country to attend.
“The rodeo averages 5,000 people a night,” Johnson said. “It’s very important to the community ... the Marines make the rodeo what it is.”
Among the rodeos, the MCG participated in Xtreme Bulls Night, the only rodeo featuring bull riding alone, where the MCG presented colors along side the bull riders to start the night, and Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, where the MCG donned pink rodeo shirts to raise awareness for breast cancer.
“The Marines presenting colors is the best way to start a rodeo,” explained Johnson. “As soon as the Mounted Color Guard comes out … the audience is immediately on their feet and cheering. The Marines really get the crowd fired up.”
Aside from the rodeos, the mounted Marines participated in two Stampede Parades and the Cody Kiddies Parade, which was a first for the MCG, explained Torrealba.
“The Kiddies Parade was one of my favorite parts of the trip,” said Torrealba. “It was an exceptionally successful part of the mission because of the kids coming up to us and interacting with the Marines. It left a great impact on the kids and the future of the Marine Corps.”
During the Cody Stampede Parades on July 3 and July 4, the MCG carried the nation’s colors and were taken aback at the patriotism the crowd displayed as they walked by in formation, Torrealba explained.
“Everyone at the parade, including young children, stood for us and had their hand over their hearts,” added the Los Angeles native. He further explained he had never seen a parade with so many people so quiet and so patriotic.
When the Marines were not presenting colors at rodeos or trotting down the streets of Cody for parades, they were interacting with the community and meeting with Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“It’s a great honor to hold the position I have with the MCG and represent the Marine Corps to maintain the history, discipline, honor, courage and commitment of the Marine Corps,” Torrealba explained. “If it wasn’t for them (the veterans) we wouldn’t be where we are today. Representing them is something myself and my Marines hold to the highest standard, no matter what era or branch of service they are.”
The Marines also enjoyed sitting down and listening to the stories the veterans had to tell, explained Marks.
“It’s great to exchange personal stories with the veterans, and hear the ones that aren’t written in the history books,” Marks added.
Torrealba, Marks, Richards, and Kessler all enjoyed the patriotism displayed throughout the town and even on their ride there and back to Barstow, the Marines explained.
The hospitality and patriotism the Marines encountered was incomparable, Torrealbla said.
“People we didn’t know would thank us for our service as we walked around or stopped at places to eat,” Torrealba added. “When they found out we were part of the Mounted Color Guard people would come up to give us hugs, take pictures, ask for autographs, and want to introduce us to their families. It left an everlasting impression.”
Marks added that any town, big or small, should celebrate the Fourth of July the way Cody does: in a truly patriotic manner. The Idaho native further explained that although he will not be returning to Cody with the MCG next year, due to a change in duty stations, he will definitely be visiting the community and the friends he made during the MCG’s trip to Cody, Wyo.
“Cody as a whole was an amazing experience,” said Kessler. “The patriotism and open arms of the community was very moving. The rodeos are usually my favorite (part of trips), but in Cody you can’t pick out one part that tops the rest, it’s a total package.”