In 1981 a group of five American Legion Auxiliary members from the Ames Unit made the decision to form a color guard after watching the color guard competition in the Department Convention parade each year. Those women, Sandy Deacon, Ann Rehbein, Judy Demarest, Annette Thompson and Linda Boeck, would be the foundation of a group that would come to dominate Color Guard competitions at the National Convention. They named themselves the Pure Heaven Color Guard.
Knowing that the visual appearance of any group creates that first impression, Pure Heaven made the decision to wear uniforms from the Revolutionary War period. Their uniforms were complete to the period including the white wig and tri-corn hat. Brown Bess muskets completed the uniform for the guards with a sabre for the Commander. Flags included the US Flag and the American Legion Auxiliary banner.
They marched the first year at Department Convention in 1981. The main competition at the time came from three southwest Iowa Color Guards, Shenandoah Post #88, Guthrie Center Post #124 and Fontanelle Post #274. Those posts had traded the Department Championship for several years.
At that 1981 convention, they learned of a competition at National Convention and determined to enter that the next year. Since that was a floor-style competition rather than a parade competition, they began work on a routine that winter and practiced during the spring and summer.
The 1982 National Convention was in downtown Chicago. The Color Guard competition was held outside in Grant Park. The Pure Heaven ladies quickly realized how much they had to learn after watching the other guards in the competition. There were 10 or 11 other groups in that competition, including such names as the Springfield Rifles from Ohio, the Highlanders from Kentucky, the First National Bank from there in Chicago and the Jersey Chevrons. Many of the Guards, while sponsored by Posts, were also supported by large companies.
That lesson learned, Pure Heaven returned home to Ames and began work on improving. Each year they returned to National Convention to compete and within just a year or two became a real force to be reckoned with in the Department Convention competition. Their routine at the National competition continued to develop with changes and additions each year based on their ideas and comments from the National judges.
The Department Champion Color Guard also was the Commander’s Color Guard and posted colors at the Department meetings. There was some controversy concerning Auxiliary members posting the Department Colors but that hurdle was overcome with the help of friends from around the state and they were accepted in the role as the Department Color Guard.
A very significant addition came when Mike Deacon moved to Ames and became involved. Mike had marched in Maryland with the Yankee Rebels drum corps and the National Champion Color Guard, the Cheverly Troopers. His knowledge and experience very much helped in Pure Heaven’s drive to the National Championship, first in his coaching and then as a marching member.
Their hard work paid off almost exactly 10 years later and in the same city. Saturday morning, August 22, 1992 at the Color Guard competition, Pure Heaven was crowned National Champion. The picture with this article is from that championship. The marching members were (back) Annette Thompson, Ann Rehbein and Maggie Schomaker, (middle) Sandy Deacon and Judy Demarest, (front) Linda Boeck and Darlene Brace. They returned home to a welcome home celebration and parade and renewed determination for the next year.
In 1996 Pure Heaven ceased being exclusively an American Legion Auxiliary guard with the addition of Mike Deacon and Jerry Boeck from the Sons of the American Legion Squadron #37 as marching members. That year also saw the change from Revolutionary War uniforms to cavalry uniforms. Those two changes in membership and appearance had no effect on their marching as they continued the string of National Championships that had begun in 1992.
Pure Heaven defended their National title seven times, becoming the first Color Guard to hold the title of National Champion eight consecutive years. Other marching members joined them at various times.. They included Ann Crawford, Theresa Brosnahan, Barb Rush-O’Donnell, Pat Jones, Lola Haynes, Barb Van Voorhis, Karla Whetstone and Chris Rehbein. Pure Heaven retired from competition after the 2000 National Convention.