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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: The 20th annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

Thank you to all who came out to honor our veterans at the 20th annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, as well as to all of our valued volunteers. Most of all, thank you to all veterans and active-duty military for your sacrifices and service!

Please enjoy these great video highlights provided by a friend of the parade:

 

2016-11-14T16:14:12-07:00

WELCOME HOME VIETNAM HEROES: The story behind this year’s parade theme

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In 1945, U.S. President Harry Truman broke the news and declared an Allied victory in World War II after six years of war. Celebrations were held across the world. People crowded into New York’s Times Square to rejoice; a large ticker tape parade hailed the conquering heroes as 13,000 members of the 82nd Airborne Division marched up Fifth Avenue. Victory parades were held at cities and towns across the country to honor the returning veterans and recognize the sacrifices they had made.

Vietnam veterans, however, had an entirely different homecoming, due in no small part to the large segment of the American population who were opposed to U.S. involvement in South Vietnam. American soldiers returned home to a country torn apart by debate over the war. There were no victory parades or welcome-home rallies. As many Vietnam vets will testify, they came back to a society that did not seem to care about them, or that seemed to sometimes view them with distrust and even anger – or just indifference. Many Vietnam veterans tell stories of people seemingly uncomfortable around them, and who did not appear interested in hearing about their wartime experiences.

“Men who fought in World War II or Korea might be just as haunted by what they had personally seen and done in combat,” said Arnold R. Isaacs in “Vietnam Shadows: The War, Its Ghosts, and Its Legacy.” “But they did not come home, as the Vietnam vets did, to a country torn and full of doubt about why those wars were fought and whether they had been worthwhile. Nor did they return as symbols of a great national failure.”

vietnam-vetsOur Vietnam veterans are amongst the largest number of veterans in our country today. Some veterans returned from Vietnam with severe physical disabilities or emotional problem. The Vietnam War had a much higher ratio of wounded to killed soldiers than any previous war; many returned with serious, crippling injuries, such as amputated limbs and paralysis. Many suffered from depression, guilt, flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, angry outbursts, anxiety and paranoia. Doctors eventually gave this condition a name: Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), and recognized it as a real psychological illness. Studies have estimated that as many as 800,000 Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSS; many decided to end their own lives. Some experts believe that the number of veterans who committed suicide after returning home from Vietnam was at least as great as the 58,000 Americans who died in the war.

The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade committee wanted to help transfer the negative sentiment that once prevailed to a more positive one this year, which is why they came up with the theme of “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The majority of our Vietnam veterans were drafted, went to a war that lost its support and funding, and – at the average age of 19 – these veterans became trapped in the middle. It’s only appropriate that, in honoring them this year, we try to improve upon the wrongdoings of our past.

We hope you will join us at the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade this Friday, November 11, to partner with us in saying “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes” – and give them the parade they never had.

For more information on the parade and route, click HERE.

 

2016-11-10T18:16:48-07:00

MEET OUR MARSHALS: Vietnam War Grand Marshal Carlyle Brown

Carlyle Brown

Vietnam War Grand Marshal Carlyle Brown

Recalling the actions that earned him the Bronze Star in Vietnam, Carlyle Brown speaks in words that are moving and evocative of the experience of so many veterans that served in that war: “I don’t feel I did anything special. I just did what I was supposed to do.” In other words, Brown did his duty.

Born and raised in rural Linden, Michigan, after high school Brown attended Central Michigan University when, after a year and a half as a student there, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1966 for a four-year commitment with an Aviation guarantee. After training, Brown left in November 1966 for Vietnam, ultimately ending up in the northern I Corps region along the DMZ. Serving as a door gunner on a helicopter gun ship in I Corps from August 1967 until July 28, 1968, Brown was assigned to USMC Base X at Quang Tri and served during the action at Con Thien, the 1968 Tet Offensive, the battle of Hue, various engagements along the Perfume River and the DMZ and, of course, at the siege of Khe Sanh.

Near the conclusion of the siege of Khe Sanh, Brown’s gunship was called in to support a nearby special intelligence operation at the DMZ that was under attack from elements of the People’s Army of North Vietnam (the NVA). While his pilot hovered close above the fight and within range of the NVA forces, Brown manned his door gun and laid down a continuous and withering field of fire that allowed the troops and their rescue helicopter crew to safely escape. It was for this meritorious service that Brown received the Bronze Star. He was also awarded five Air Medals, two Presidential Unit Citations, the Major Unit Citation, the Vietnamese Cross with Gold Palm and the Vietnamese Civil Action Citation.

Like so many Vietnam veterans, when he left the Marine Corps and returned home to Michigan in 1970, Brown did not receive any community recognition or engagement. He worked in Michigan for the successor of Michigan Bell for 28 years until his retirement in 1998. He also began a now lifelong commitment to the involvement with and recognition of veterans of all wars who served to protect America by attending many of the annual events at Michigan’s Military & Space Heroes Museum. After retiring to Scottsdale in 1999, Brown became active in supporting and honoring veterans here in Arizona, including his annual attendance at the RAF Cadet Memorial Service held at the City of Mesa Cemetery to honor the 23 RAF Cadets who lost their lives in flight training at #4 British Flying School (later Mesa’s Falcon Field) during World War II.

Today, Brown lives in Mesa (very close to Falcon Field), is active in his church and continues to support his fellow veterans everywhere.

Brown expresses his feelings about being a Vietnam Grand Marshal in this year’s Phoenix Veterans Day Parade with his usual humility and grace: “I never would have believed that a boy from a village in Michigan would have ended up with such an honor from the fourth-largest Veterans Day Parade in America.” Would serve his country again like he did in Vietnam? “In a heartbeat!” he exclaims.


We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE

2016-11-08T18:11:42-07:00

MEET OUR MARSHALS: Vietnam War Grand Marshal Frank Vinales

Frank Vinales

Vietnam War Grand Marshal Frank Vinales

Frank Vinales joined the Army right after high school at the age of 17 and had to obtain his parents’ permission to do so. He said he wanted to do something to protect our country through war service. After joining, he went to jungle school in Panama, to reconnaissance school and became a machine gun squad leader. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant at the age of 18.  He was assigned to Fort Campbell, KY.  He trained there for a year, and that’s when they informed him that at this time next year he would be in Vietnam.

“I was pretty gung ho. I knew I wanted to go, but a part of me still had hesitation,” he says. “The camaraderie I experienced with my unit was amazing. I couldn’t believe that other comrades would care so much about me, that they would be willing to give up their life while defending our country.”

He didn’t know at the time how true those words would be. While in Vietnam fighting enemy forces, he saw that his best friend was on point and was cut off. He kept trying to get to him despite the machine-gun fire.

“I was so upset; I thought I had to find a different direction to help him,” Vinales remembers. “So I grabbed an M-72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon (rocket) and fired into the enemy machine-gun bunkers. This gave me the opportunity to crawl out to where he was. He was too big to carry, and his legs were bleeding due to the gunfire. I was shot two times when I was with him, and then he was shot in his back, but he did the most courageous thing. He rolled over on top of me to take the brunt of the fire, and we lost him at that time. After darkness fell, I crawled out from under him and went back to the initial spot I had started from. On the way back I was shot two more times, but I made it back to my camp. From there I was medically evacuated to a MASH unit. I was operated on and was then flown to Japan, where I had my second operation. From there I was sent to a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. I was in the hospital for four months recovering from my wounds.”

Although Vinales was deeply saddened by the loss of his friend, the Army took the time to recognize him for his efforts, presenting him with the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest military decoration for valor awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces. Any uniformed service member may receive the medal, which is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States. He also has earned four Purple Hearts.

“Joining the service is an individual choice,” Vinales points out, adding, “Despite all the injuries, I’m still honored to have joined.”

When asked about being selected to serve as the Vietnam Grand Marshal, Frank Vinales says, “I feel it’s a great honor. It’s my homecoming parade that I’ve been waiting for and I thought I would never get.”

Frank Vinales lives in Chandler, Arizona.


We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE

2016-11-07T17:20:22-07:00

MEDIA ADVISORY: Looking forward to Veterans Day, Friday, November 11th

For Immediate Release Nov. 3, 2016
For information contact:  Paula Pedene 480-772-2934
Paula@PedenePR.com

Parade Celebrates 20 Years with Theme “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes”

Glowing with tributes to our nation’s true heroes, our veterans, the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade will once again be presented by Honoring America’s’s Veterans.

Time:  LIVE Shots available from 4:30 to 9 a.m.

Time:  Parade start 11 a.m. open media

Date:  Friday, Nov. 11, 2016

Place:  South on Central starting at Montebello, East on Camelback Road, and South on 7th Street to Indian School Road

The parade commemorates and honors our veterans and educates Americans about the service and sacrifices our veterans have made to protect our freedoms.  This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade has 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature:

  • 18 Floats
  • 15 Marching Units
  • Dozens of color guards and military vehicles
  • Seven Bands
  • Three large helium balloons including Uncle Sam, the Bald Eagle and the Purple Heart.
  • We’ll also have animal entries, novelty units and much, much more.

Now in its 20th year, the parade is one of the premier Veterans Day events in the nation, with tens of thousands of spectators.

MEDIA PLEASE NOTE:  Live shot availability will begin at 4:30 a.m. Several entries will be available throughout the morning including

  • Arizona Public Service Float
  • Department of Corrections Float
  • POW/MIA/KIA Honor Guard
  • Arizona Twirlers
  • Specialty vehicles

For live shot coordination and other information please contact Paula Pedene, Parade Coordinator at (480) 772-2934 or paula@pedenepr.com.

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2016-11-07T16:49:00-07:00

PROFILES IN COURAGE: KTAR reports on Phoenix Veterans Day Cold War Grand Marshal Diana Pike

ktar-diana-pike

We are honored that KTAR News has chosen to feature each of our 2016 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshals in their “Profiles in Courage” feature.

In this installment, Cold War Grand Marshal Diana Pike can’t fight back the tears as she not only recalls her service – but that of those who have fallen, including her son Christian. Listen to this moving story HERE.


We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE

2016-11-04T20:26:47-07:00

PROFILES IN COURAGE: KTAR reports on Phoenix Veterans Day Parade World War II Grand Marshal John Kolling

ktar-john-kolling

In their ongoing “Profiles in Courage” series, KTAR News has been profiling each of the 2016 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshals!

Click HERE for this installment, in which veteran John Kolling emotionally recalls fighting in World War II.


We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE

2016-11-04T20:12:45-07:00

PROFILES IN COURAGE: KTAR reports on Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Operation Enduring Freedom Grand Marshal Jay Darby

ktar-jay-darby

We are thrilled that KTAR News is honoring each 2016 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshal during their Profiles in Courage series.

In this third installment, click HERE to learn how Operation Enduring Freedom Grand Marshal Jay Darby turned rebellion into a successful military career.


We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE

2016-11-04T20:04:34-07:00

PHOENIX VETERANS DAY PARADE ESSAY CONTEST: Our first-place winner

Educating our youth about the sacrifices and service our military veterans provide is a part of the mission of the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. So, the non-profit parade organizers Honoring America’s’s Veterans once again hosted the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Essay Contest this year as part of the education effort.

Open to all high-school-age students in grades 9-12 in Maricopa County, the essay theme focus this year was the parade theme of “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” A total of 113 essays were received and were judged on creative writing, grammar, originality, content and theme focus. First-, second- and third-place winners receive cash prizes courtesy of Durant’s Restaurant, a ride in the parade and several other “perks” as a way of saying thanks for their efforts.

We are pleased to present this year’s third-place-winning essay by Dillon Shipley, a 10th grade student at Seton Catholic Prep.


DEROS

For a lot of soldiers in the Vietnam War, DEROS, or Date Eligible for Return from Overseas, was the most important thing that they held on to in the last few months of their time. DEROS was something that kept our troops going, especially my uncle, former 2nd Lieutenant Rick West. As an officer he knew more about what was going on than the average soldier, but that didn’t stop him from feeling excited once he got on the plane home. As his time got closer, he created a plan to take the cash that he bikershad, $1,300, to buy a motorcycle and tour the country. Until then, his job and the job of others was, as he put it, “to keep me in one piece.” As he got onto the “Freedom Bird” – which was what the soldiers called the plane home – even though he was crammed in between as many other soldiers as could possibly fit, he could not help but think that he was happy to be there. After arriving, he decided that he just wanted to get home as soon as possible. Forget the motorcycle trip, forget the $1,300 – he just wanted to be home. After the flight home and catching a ride from some generous citizens to his parent’s house, he rang the doorbell. His dad opened the door, and before he even saw who was standing there, said, “Hi Rick.” Even though his DEROS had already passed, this was his true date of return. A week later, he was working as a lawyer in Champaign, Illinois, and remembered no more than a little discrimination against him because of his service. But what about the people who weren’t so lucky?

What about the soldiers who got spit on, shunned and discriminated against? Even though my uncle ran into some generous citizens who were proud of his service, not all people were like that. After all, as West points out, there “was no one there” to greet our troops when they stepped off the plane. Consider the people who came back broken in both the body and the mind. As my uncle said, it’s a “black mark on our country that we treated them the way we did.” The media and America in general had seen the very worst of the war, according to former Colonel Thomas Darby. Those people might feel like they never came back. They might not be proud of their service, like my uncle and Mr. Darby were. Their DEROS and official records say they made it back, but what if they never really did?

And most importantly, what about the soldiers who never lived to see their DEROS?

For the veterans, and the people who feel like they haven’t fully returned, our perception of their service has changed. As an American, I am proud and grateful for your service, and most of the people I know are as well.

Welcome home, Vietnam Veterans.

Your DEROS is today.

2016-11-04T19:44:46-07:00

PROFILES IN COURAGE: KTAR reports on Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Korean War Grand Marshal Bill Kummer

ktar-bill-kummer

We are so grateful for our friends at KTAR, who are running a series of features on the eight Veteran Grand Marshals for the 2016 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

In this second installment, click HERE to hear from Korean War Grand Marshal Bill Kummer, whose amazing military career earned him an array of medals.


We hope you will join us at the 20th Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2016, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Pete Hegseth and all eight Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE

2016-11-03T23:09:08-07:00