Birchwood CAP color guard wins state championship
Six Chugiak-Eagle River teens will travel to Nevada later this month to represent Alaska at the Pacific Coast Regional Civil Air Patrol Color Guard Competition in Reno.
The members of the Birchwood Composite Squadron won the state competition on Saturday, April 8 on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. The daylong event included tests of the team’s skills as a color guard as well as physical fitness and public speaking.
“It was exhausting,” said cadet Bryan Lilly, the group’s commander.
As he spoke, Lilly’s fellow squad members nodded in agreement.
“Mentally and physically,” added team member Anthony Burris.
In addition to Lilly and Burris, the state championship squadron includes Alanis Abdelnoor, Kallan Yesuvida, Kyle Anderson and Isabellea Mollison.
The Pacific Coast Region includes Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, California, Washington and Oregon. A victory at regionals would earn the squadron a spot in the national championships.
Ranging in age from 15 to 19, the six have been practicing for two hours a day, twice a week since October. Now that they’ve made it to regionals, Lilly said that schedule might be expanded.
“We found out there’s a lot we have to work on,” he said during a practice session Sunday at the Birchwood Airport.
The six members of the squadron are split between Chugiak and Eagle River High School, with one member attending UAA. All hope to become pilots and said they intend to pursue careers in the military. As members of the color guard, the group frequently presents the colors at prestigious events, including this year’s Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.
The group said Saturday’s victory was the culmination of months of meticulously drilling, folding flags, raising flags and studying.
“All the practice paid off,” Lilly said.