10/24/12 Although former Marshall County 4-H Drill Team and Color Guard leader, Harry Eskridge, didn’t learn to ride a horse until he was an adult, riding became a passion he shared for 18 years. Now the accomplishments of the teams he and others led over the years can be seen in a unique display honoring the Polk Township 4-H Drill Team and the Marshall County 4-H Drill Team at the Marshall County Historical Museum in Plymouth.

The Museum staff and volunteers will be holding an open house to honor the Drill Teams on Thursday, October 25 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

   The permanent display features a 375 pound, eight foot metal horse, complete with saddle and reins. Eskridge said they were able to purchase the model horse in the Peru, IN area and Doug Feece, Burt’s Body Shop, coated it with two coats of paint to make it really stand out. The new saddle was provided by Dale Klingerman.

Eskridge said he joined the Sheriff’s Posse under Harvey Phillips and taught himself to ride.

The first team was started by Welcome Miller along with Jerry Seagraves, Ned Hagg, and Roger Hendricks. Eskridge said Miller recruited to him to help with the team. Eskridge said, “I was with the team the first time from 1970-1978. He said in 1975, the Color Guard took first place at the Indiana State Fair. After being away from the team for several years, he came back as the leader for another eight years starting in 2002.

Each year; the team began training every weekend starting in February to be ready to ride in Memorial Day parades. He said, “We carried a million dollar insurance policy on the team members, but fortunately, we never had a mishap.”

Eskridge had used the opportunities to have his teams open the Marshall County Fair with their patriotic ceremony since 2002. The patriotic ceremonies included the Drill Team equestrian performances, flyovers with local pilots, special honors to those serving in the Armed Forces and veterans, and the presenting of the Colors. Eskridge said they placed a flag pole on the fairgrounds to support a 5x 8 foot flag.

Eskridge disbanded the Drill Team in 2011 after he experienced some health problems. He said, “I had wonderful leaders helping me including Mark Easterday, Len Carlson, Brenda Carlson, Wayne Nifong, Jennifer Nifong, and Waneta Skinner. He also praised his wife Diane for her years of service to the team. Eskridge said, “Diane loves kids. She was all for anything you could do for the kids.”

He said he is most proud that the teams learned respect for one another, learned that everyone on the team is equal, honored those who had served or are now serving in the Armed Forces, respected the flag, and learned to say thank you.

Carol Anders Correspondent