FORT KNOX, Ky. - Members of the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) color guard presented the colors during opening ceremonies of NASCAR's Meijer 300, Nationwide Series race on Saturday, June 12 at the Kentucky Speedway located in Sparta, Ky.

The 3d ESC color guard, along with members of the 123rd Airlift Wing of the Kentucky Air National Guard, presented the nation's colors during the race's star-studded opening ceremony that included VIP introductions of animal expert Jack Hanna and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones, who served as the grand marshal. Super Bowl champion and former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ben Utecht, sung the national anthem,

Kentucky Speedway's management were impressed with the 3d ESC's professionalism, and stated they would be happy to host the color guard at a similar event in the future.

"We were honored to host the 3d ESC's color guard at the Meijer 300," said Tim Bray, the Kentucky Speedway's director of communications. "We are grateful they were available to be a part of our event, as our pre-race ceremony carried a powerful message. We want to be a forum to honor our troops, our fellow Americans."

Bray said that he was intrigued by the unit's multiple campaign tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti, and wanted to thank them for their participation.

Throughout the opening ceremony, past and present troops were honored as well as those wounded in combat.

During driver introductions, many stopped to thank members of the 3d ESC color guard for their service and sacrifice.

"It was an honor to be chosen to present the colors at the Meijer 300," said Staff Sgt. Alvin Porch, a Columbus, Ga., native and noncommissioned officer in charge for the 3d ESC color guard. "This was an excellent way for us to represent the 3d ESC, our leadership and Fort Knox during a nationally televised event such as this."

Porch said a few members of the color guard had to overcome their nervousness, but managed to perform flawlessly when it counted.

"I never had to perform in front of so many people before, but I pulled it off somehow," said Spc. Duane Yates, an Ashtabula, Ohio native and 3d ESC supply specialist. "I Just had to calm myself down and do what I was taught to do."

Attended by more than 60,000 fans, the Meijer 300 was the first event of such magnitude for the 3d ESC, as well as its first NASCAR race. The Meijer 300 was historic as driver Joey Logano won the event for the third consecutive time.

Photos and story by Sgt. Michael Behlin, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) public affairs. For queries, contact 3d Sustainment Command Public Affairs at: (502) 624-8601. For high-resolution photos and stories by the 3d Sustainment Command, please contact the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System by calling (678) 421-6612 or access them online at