A group of local veterans says time is running out to find a replacement for their one-of-a-kind unit.
The local color guard will present the colors July 30 at the Tampa Bay Rays game, but the replacement they’re looking for has to meet unique qualifications.
Rudy Salas, a retired Marine, represents the stars and stripes in a new role as a member of the guard.
"It kind of takes me back to the roots in ROTC,” he said.
Salas and his group of veterans have presented the colors at several big events, including the Republican National Convention and Buccaneers games.
"I emphasize that we look good, we work at it, stay sharp and, you know, we run this like a military function,” he said.
But to function as a complete unit, they need five members. Right now they’re down a veteran and have less than two weeks until their next big event.
“It’s a special unit, and I think it takes special individuals,” he said.
It also takes a unique qualifications – each member of this color guard is an amputee.
“When we bring out that American flag, we represent every American who ever fought in any war of the United States, from past to the present,” Doc Milligan, another member of the group.
Salas lost his leg in an explosion during a deployment to Vietnam in January 1967. His mission today is to inspire other veterans and show that the loss of a limb does not have to mean limitations.
“They can’t see our faces,” Salas said. “They don’t know who we are, but what we represent. They see immediately and that’s the ticket.”
If you would like more information, contact Salas at firstname.lastname@example.org.