Off Beat: Sign shows Pollard still commands support from troops

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Col. Daniel Kern of Camas was one of the dignitaries Saturday in Vancouver’s annual Veterans Parade, serving as reviewing officer.

Former mayor Royce Pollard was the parade’s grand marshal in 2010.

It’s not their first shared enterprise. There’s the U.S. Army uniform, of course: Pollard is former commander of Vancouver Barracks.

More recently, Kern was part of Pollard’s final run for Vancouver mayor. What Kern did was post one of Pollard’s campaign signs on top of a peak in Afghanistan.

A top staff member of the Washington Army National Guard, Kern spent eight months as senior mentor with Afghanistan’s service college program.

Kern said he helped train Afghan army officers ranging from senior captains to two-star generals.

While he was there, Kern asked his wife to mail him a “Royce Pollard for Mayor” sign.

As he told The Columbian after his deployment, the sign started out in Kern’s office. His executive officer suggested they take the sign along when they trekked up 8,000-foot Gharib Ghar.

The peak near the capital of Kabul was in a secured training area, but “you always had your guns with you,” Kern said.

They retrieved the campaign sign before Kern returned home — and he was impressed by how well the sign looked after more than two months on a mountaintop.

“Somebody continued to take care of Royce’s sign,” Kern said. “Somebody went out of their way to make sure it was clean and straight.

“We didn’t even put it up that straight,” he recalled.

Kern said one of his Afghan counterparts told him, “Whoever saw the sign thought, ‘This is an important man.’”

Early Christmas?

Some of the top musical talent at Prairie and Battle Ground high schools started singing about a white Christmas when we were mopping off sweat.

Battle Ground’s all-district musical, “White Christmas,” begins its six-performance run at 7 p.m. Thursday at Prairie High.

Director Claire Verity opened auditions on the first day of school, Sept. 7. As students sang about sleigh bells in the snow, the mercury hit 94 degrees.

— Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.