Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Announces 2019 Parade Grand Marshals

Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV) is announcing the following Grand Marshals for the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ashby, World War II. U.S. Air Force (Sun City West, AZ): A Tuskegee airman and first black captain for Frontier Airlines, Robert Ashby was born July 17, 1926 in Yemassee, SC. As a cadet he flew the Stearman PT-17, AT-6, and the B-25. Ashby graduated as a second lieutenant with the Tuskegee Class of 45-H on November 20, 1945. After. President Harry S. Truman integrated the armed forces, and Ashby was assigned to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in August 1949 for a short tour. Later, he was assigned to a Reserve Troop Carrier Wing at Cleveland Municipal Airport. Here he trained in the T-6 and C-46 aircraft. In 1952, Ashby flew B-26’s for a year of combat in Korea while stationed at K-8. In 1956, in England, Ashby flew the T-33, B-45 and B-66. He trained in the B-47 aircraft and became a B-47 instructor. Reaching the status of Lieutenant Colonel, Robert Ashby retired honorably from the U.S. Air Force in July 1965, after 21 years of fighting racial problems as well as the enemies of America.
  • Captain William Leasure, Korean War, U.S. Air Force (City, AZ): William “Bill” Leasure joined the United States Air Force in June 1954 and served 5 years as an Armament System Officer. During his time in the United States Air Force, Captain Leasure served in Colorado where he was involved in testing the F111, one of the newest and most technological advanced aircraft of its time. He was directly involved in the testing of this new aircraft and was a member of a team of brave pilots and crewmen who worked on the many bugs associated with F-111 until it was deemed “fit to fly”. During Captain Leasure’s time in service he served alongside numerous proud and dedicated patriots and is proud of his time in service. Captain Leasure believes that the training he and his comrades received was the best in the world and attributes his training and experience in United Sates Air Force for many of the successes he has had over his lifetime.
  • Staff Sergeant William Tafoya, Vietnam, U.S. Army (Goodyear, AZ): Bill Tafoya is an Arizona native, born in Winslow, and moved to Tempe when he was 12. He volunteered to join the U.S. Army when he was 17. Following training, he was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the 1st Battalion, 47th Infantry, where he was assigned to Ski Patrol. After a short period of time, he was shipped to Hawaii for tropical training and then joined the 25th Infantry Division. The 25th was assigned to Cu Chi, a dense jungle portion of Vietnam, that was thick with Viet Cong. As a high school student, Bill was disappointed he was not large enough to be accepted to the football team. Yet he found in Vietnam, due to his smaller size, the 25th had just the right job that he qualified for, and this was as a “Tunnel Rat”. The Viet Cong had extensive and elaborate tunnels in Vietnam. It took just the right volunteer to enter these tunnels, mostly crawling on their stomach in such a tiny space, with a flashlight in one hand, and a weapon in the other, in order to root out the enemy. Spending two years in Vietnam with the 25th, he was awarded many decorations, medals, badges and commendations. Among these awards are the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Rifle, three Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. Bill was awarded the Bronze Star for rendering aid to his squad after entering a mine field. Afterwards, Bill himself stepped onto a trip wire and reinforcements were able to extract him before it blew. Bill is very proud of his military service, the strong bonds that are only formed in a combat situation. Bill refers to them as “my brothers” and he will never forget those that gave their lives.
  • Master Sergeant Norbert “Dave” Yanez, (Air Force), Cold War, U.S. Air Force (Peoria, AZ): Dave was born and raised in Globe Arizona. Being one of 18 members of Dave’s family to serve in the United States military, it was just an easy decision when his friend suggested that they join the U.S. Air Force. His service spanned 23 years, rising to the rank of Master Sergeant. Dave’s service started during the Cold War and included service in England, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ during the Cuba Missile Crisis, Southeast Asia, (Vietnam and Thailand) and Panama. His many military occupations include a wide variety of skills. Dave started out as an Air Policeman, during that time he was a military police dog handler for four years, a T.I., Air Force drill instructor, then cross trained into the education and training career field. He was the Non-commissioned officer in charge of the curriculum section of the Inter-American Air Force Academy in Panama. Dave’s many awards and decorations include; Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation with four oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Service Medal with four campaign stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry cross with palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Dave is 80 years young and continues to donate his time and talents to; American Red Cross (Luke AFB, 56th Medical Group), Glendale Police Department, Volunteer In Police Services, (VIPS), DUET of Arizona (volunteers helping assist seniors in their daily life needs), and was the coordinator for Luna/Stalls Memorial, raising $280,000 over 10 year span.
  • Private First-Class Robert Sims, Desert Storm, U.S. Marine Corps (Casa Grand, AZ): Robert “Bobby” Sims was “a small kid from Mammoth, Arizona” when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 18 years old. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 11th Marine, 1st Marine Division, and served aboard USS Germantown, USS Frederick, and USS Belleau Wood. He vividly recalled a morning in February of 1991, he stepped off the flight deck, and into a rare sight on the mess decks: steak and eggs for breakfast!? Immediately, he knew something big was about to happen. With Scud missiles flying overhead, he realized, “We’re in it now!” Sims didn’t talk much about his time on the battlefield, but according to the unit’s website, the 1st MarDiv “destroyed the enemy in its path as it led the breakthrough to Kuwait City.” Sims earned a Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Mast, and other decorations. Robert Sims is now a Sergeant in the Gila River Police Department
  • Sergeant Ashley Marshall, Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Army (Mesa, AZ): Ashley is the definition of Army Strong. Even when faced with hardships and the unthinkable, she pushes forward and is still such a kind and loving person.” Ashley Marshall said one of her older brothers is probably the reason she enlisted. He was already in the Army, but said, “It’d be too difficult for her. It was game on!” He advised her to “pick an easy MOS, not anything like Military Police (MP).” So, right out of high school, she went to basic, with plans to become a 31B–yes, an MP! Ashley barely turned 19 when she was sent to Baghdad in 2005. She quickly proved herself on the battlefield. While on patrol as a turret gunner just outside Camp Taji, Ashley’s HMMWV hit an IED. She was knocked out until they returned to the Forward Operating Base (FOB). In a second close-call, a truck was hit by an RPG. Marshall received the Combat Action Badge, two Army Commendations, and other military decorations. Ashley advanced to Sergeant (E5) by the end of her enlistments, got married and enrolled in Arizona State University, where she earned a Bachelors. Ashley is now a coordinator for the Veterans Upward Bound at ASU, and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Petty Officer First Class Christopher Oshana, Operation Restore Hope, U.S. Navy (Goodyear, AZ): Christopher “Boats” Oshana was born in Bristol, Connecticut. At age 14 he was fascinated by the Seabees depicted in his father’s WWII Time-Life books and instantly knew that military life on the sea was for him. Upon graduation in 1984, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and has never regretted his decision. After graduating from Basic Training at the Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, he reported for his first duty aboard the USS Sylvania. He later transferred to the Fleet Combat Training Center in Virginia where he became a military working dog handler, sniffing out bombs and other threats. Chris then became a boatswain (hence his nickname, “Boats”) and served on the USS El Paso, followed by deployment to the Mediterranean Sea during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. When deployed for Operation Restore Hope in December 1992, “Boats” acted at a Causeway Barge Ferry Pilot to support the multi-national humanitarian aid effort in Somalia, by carrying necessary equipment, fuel, vehicles and combat cargo for the Marine Expeditionary Force on the ground. Other duty stations included the USS Puget Sound, the USS Tortuga, the Amphibious Construction Battalion Two and lastly, the Navy Recruiting District in Phoenix. After 20 years of dedicated service, Oshana crossed the quarterdeck for the last time, retiring from Naval service in 2004 with the rank of Boatswain Mate, 1st Class Petty Officer. The recipient of many medals and ribbons, he is particularly proud of earning the Southwest Asia Expeditionary and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medals.

We are also pleased to announce that M*A*S*H* star Loretta Swit will be the 2019 Celebrity Grand Marshal.

Celebrity Grand Marshal Loretta Swit: Actress, singer, and dancer Loretta Swit will commemorate our nation’s veterans in this year’s parade. Swit embraces the true compassion of animal advocacy and as such is striving to bring all Military K9 Working Dogs home from overseas. Working with HAV and the Military Working Dog parade entry, Swit will serve as Celebrity Grand Marshal to bring more attention to our veterans.

The Veterans Grand Marshals will participate in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 in Central Phoenix. The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade has been billed as one of the largest in spectator attendance across the country and is now in its 23rd year. The parade is presented by Honoring Arizona’s Veterans, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to honor and recognize those military service members who have served our country.

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Veterans Grand Marshals Represent All Eras in Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

Arizona Pubic Service proudly hosts the sixth annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, announcement of the Veterans Grand Marshal’s Event. Photo credit: Bill Pedene, Bill Pedene Photography

The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade has been a passion of mine for more than two decades. When we started this event in 1997, we had no idea that it would grow into one of the largest of its kind in the Nation. But beyond the beautiful floats, vintage cars, marching bands and pomp and circumstance one might expect at a parade of this magnitude, we’ll honor a very special group of individuals that represent all Arizonans who have worn the uniform of our great nation – The Veteran Grand Marshals.

Each year, the parade steering organization, Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV), in partnership with KTAR Radio, hand picks veterans to be grand marshals. These veterans have served in each conflict, and we celebrate them at the parade and during events leading up to Veterans Day. Sometimes this experience provides a boost to these selfless individuals, and other times it changes a life.

About six years ago, APS created a special Veterans Day ceremony recognizing the Parade Grand Marshals, which takes place in the days leading up to Veterans Day. APS employees, who are also veterans, host our Grand Marshals, their families, and other veterans for a ceremony featuring guest speakers which have included senior military officers and political leaders like Senator Jon Kyl and the late Senator John McCain. They also feature one of our Grand Marshals, who share their stories of service and sacrifice, providing for a touching moment during this very patriotic event.
The proceedings leading up to the parade always keep the spotlight firmly on our Veteran Grand Marshals, ensuring we properly honor their service, and with them, the service of all those Arizona veterans who they represent from our nation’s conflicts. Honoring America’s Veterans is proud to be a recipient of their kindness, but when the dust settles and the parade floats are retired for another year, it is fond memories made for our Grand Marshals that live on.

We are blessed to have amazing volunteers to make this APS Grand Marshals event and the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade happen. We are grateful to our City government that embraces this event with open arms. We are also grateful for the support of our business community which makes a difference for HAV. This includes companies like the University of Phoenix, USAA, General Dynamics, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and Arizona Public Service. Their support with financial resources, volunteers, HAV board members and more has been tantamount to the success and growth of this event.

You can see these Veterans Grand Marshals in the parade which will take place on Monday, November 11 at 11 a.m. on the streets of Phoenix. For more information go to www.honoringamericasveterans.org.

Arizona Pubic Service proudly hosts the sixth annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, announcement of the Veterans Grand Marshal’s Event. Photo credit: Bill Pedene, Bill Pedene Photography


World War I Centennial Focus of the 2018 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

Parade Celebrates 22 Years with Theme “Out of the Trenches: A Century of Remembrance”

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 (HAV).

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

Time:  Parade start 11 a.m., open to media

Date:  Monday, Nov. 12, 2018

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

This year’s parade theme is “OUT OF THE TRENCHES: A Century of Remembrance,” marking the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice to end World War I. The parade has more than 100 entries, and will also feature:

Actress Loretta Swit will once again serve as the Celebrity Grand Marshal of the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

Celebrity Grand Marshal Loretta Swit: Actress, singer and dancer Loretta Swit will lead this year’s parade. Swit embraces the true compassion of animal advocacy and as such is striving to bring all Military K9 Working Dogs home from overseas. Working with HAV and the Military Working Dog parade entry, Swit will walk the entire route, collecting funds from spectators to help support this effort.  Please bring your dollar bills (or more) to support her in this cause.

In addition to Ms. Swit, the parade will also highlight:

  • 14 Floats
  • 12 Marching Units
  • 7 Color Guards
  • 8 novelty units
  • 5 bands
  • Four large helium balloons, including Uncle Sam, the Bald Eagle, the Purple Heart and the HAV balloon.
  • Dozens of military vehicles
  • We’ll also have animal entries, and much, much more.

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

  • World War 1 Liberty Truck
  • Department of Corrections Float
  • POW/MIA/KIA Honor Guard
  • Arizona Twirlers
  • Specialty vehicles

Now in its 22nd year, the parade is one of the premier Veterans Day events in the nation, with tens of thousands of spectators. Several streets will be closed to make way for the Parade.

“The men and women who serve in our military face many unique challenges, and when they return they are a source of pride for us. We can never repay them for their service and sacrifice, so having an event, like this, shows the gratitude we have as a community for them. That in turn helps us to honor them and that’s why Honoring America’s’s Veterans puts on this event,” said Aaron Dudney, HAV president.

This year’s Parade Grand Marshals include:

  • Celebrity Grand Marshal Loretta Swit (Emmy Award-winning actress best known for “M*A*S*H,” animal activist, artist, veteran supporter)
  • Mike Rizzo’s World War II (Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient). (Sadly, not long after the Grand Marshals reception, Mr. Rizzo passed away; therefore, his family will represent him in his honor.)
  • Francis Doherty (Scottsdale), Korean War (Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient)
  • Santo Graziano (Phoenix), Vietnam War (Bronze Star recipient)
  • Anthony Irby (El Mirage), Cold War (saw action in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq)
  • Gene Wood (Glendale), Desert Storm (Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal recipient)
  • Ian Parkinson (Scottsdale), Operation Enduring Freedom (double amputee, Purple Heart recipient)
  • Abby Malchow (Scottsdale), Operation Iraqi Freedom (active in preventing veteran suicides)
  • Greg DeBernard of USAA, Business Community (U.S. Army veteran)

The parade will also feature the three Durant’s essay winners, who will ride in the “Hall of Flame” fire truck:

  • 1st place: Jake Marr, 11th grade, Seton Catholic Preparatory High School
  • 2nd place: Alyssa Canales, 10th grade, Cactus Shadows High School
  • 3rd place: Aliyah Galvez, 10th grade, Basha High School

Each writer shared a different perspective for this year’s theme “OUT OF THE TRENCHES: A Century of Remembrance.”

For the sixth year in a row, Durant’s fine dining restaurant in Phoenix has provided cash awards for the essay contest winners: $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place. In addition, the teacher for each of the students will receive $150 to use in his or her classroom.

The University of Phoenix and USAA hold the top spots for sponsorship of this event and have veteran and civilian employees in the parade.

The Stearman Group – World War II bi-planes led by Roger Parrish and Fred Gorrell – followed by Joe Sottile, Kurt Gearhart and Billie Walker, will once again officially start the parade with their flyover.


Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Honors Veterans of All Eras with Grand Marshal Selections

PHOENIX, AZ – This year’s Veterans Grand Marshals of the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, have earned some of our nation’s highest honors, including Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts and more. Selectees for 2018 are:

  • WWII-Mike Rizzo (Scottsdale), U.S. ArmyThis Purple Heart recipient was close to not coming back from his service overseas five times, and the memories of those close calls remain vivid in his memory.
  • Korean War-Francis Doherty (Scottsdale), U.S. ArmyThis machine gunner provided cover fire to ensure the rest of his division could get to safety during a 1951 battle; his efforts earned him a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
  • Vietnam-Santo Graziano (Phoenix), U.S. Army – A Bronze Star recipient and the founder of the Food for the Poor Project here in the Valley, Graziano’s time in Vietnam taught him to appreciate even more the little things we often take for granted in the U.S.
  • Cold War-Anthony Irby (El Mirage), U.S. Armyafter joining during the Cold War, Irby participated in the campaigns for the Defense of Saudi Arabia, the Liberation of Kuwait, and in Iraq; personal battles with homelessness and PTSD didn’t stop him.
  • Desert Storm-Gene Wood (Glendale), U.S. ArmyAmong his other military accomplishments, Wood fielded the Saudi Army’s first attack helicopter battalion; he has been awarded the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal, among others.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom-Abby Malchow (Scottsdale), U.S. NavyMalchow, who is committed to and has advocated for veteran suicide prevention on Capitol Hill, led an all-male crew (including three Iraqis) while deployed to Iraq in 2006.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)-Ian Parkinson (Scottsdale), U.S. ArmyDespite losing both legs from an IED encounter while serving in Afghanistan, this 28-year-old Purple Heart recipient continues to serve and motivate others.

“This year’s parade has a significant impact on history as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I,” said Honoring America’s’s President Aaron Dudney.  “It’s quite an honor for our community to learn more about these veterans, the conflicts in which they served, and to do so this year as we tie to WW1 Commemorations around the globe,” he added.

This year’s Celebrity Grand Marshal is Loretta Swit, of M*A*S*H fame.  As an animal lover, she will be walking the route with a goal of collecting $1 each from attendees to help bring more military canines home from overseas and ensure they are placed in good homes.

The Veterans Grand Marshals will participate in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. on Nov. 12 in Central Phoenix. The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade has been billed as one of the largest in spectator attendance across the country and is now in its 22nd year. The parade is presented by Honoring America’s’s Veterans, a 501©3 non-profit whose mission is to honor and recognize those military service members who have served our country.


Veterans Day Parade High School Essay Contest Open Now Through Sept. 24

Pictured above: The 2017 Essay Contest Winners – Ethan Brown of Seton Catholic Prep, Ruby Price of Shadow Ridge High School and Craig Ziegler of Sunrise Mountain High School – were escorted in the 2017 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade by the Hall of Flame Firefighters.


PHOENIX – High school students in Maricopa County can test their writing mettle and win up to $500 cash by entering the essay contest for the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. In addition, the teacher named on the three winning entries, who encouraged and supported the competition, will win a $150 cash card to use in his or her classroom.

This year’s theme is “Out of the Trenches: A Century of Remembrance – WWI 1918.” This year the Parade commemorates 100 years since the signing of the Armistice ending World War I.

“This theme gives students the opportunity to research the ‘Great War’ and the battle lines that were mostly fought from the trenches,” said Aaron Dudney, says Aaron Dudney, president of Honoring America’s’s Veterans, the nonprofit that presents the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

Entries are evaluated on how well they capture the theme, originality, content, creativity, English and grammar.

Other submission criteria:

  • Open to students in Maricopa County grades 9-12, to include home-schooled students
  • Essays must not exceed 500 words
  • Essays must include the student’s name, age and grade; teacher or parent’s name (if home-schooled), email and phone number; school name, address and phone number

Entries can be submitted online through September 24, 2018, at https://www.phoenixveteransdayparade.org/essay-form/.

Thanks to a special sponsorship from Durant’s Restaurant, there will be cash prizes for first, second and third place winners.  Additionally, the authors of the top three essays will ride in the parade, meet our veteran grand marshals, have their essays printed in the parade program, and attend the parade victory party.

“Being an essay winner was such an honor,” says Koriana Cannon, a contest winner from 2016. “Meeting the veterans and being part of the parade is an experience I will never forget. It made me even more thankful for all the people who have risked and lost their lives for America. You are my heroes.”

You can read last year’s winning essays here: https://www.phoenixveteransdayparade.org/parade-essay-contest-2017/


Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshals Competition Now Open

(Vietnam War Grand Marshall Larry Leighton in the 2017 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.)

PHOENIX, AZHonoring America’s’s Veterans (HAV) announced today they are once again hosting the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Veterans Grand Marshal Competition.

  • Who:  Veterans Grand Marshal Competition.
  • What:  Seven Veterans will be selected to represent each era of service in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade and surrounding activities.
  • When:  Competition runs June 1-30, 2018
  • Where:  Visit https://www.phoenixveteransdayparade.org/nomination-form/ to nominate an honorably discharged Veteran.
  • Why:  Hosted by the 501(c)(3) patriotic nonprofit Honoring America’s’s Veterans, to educate all Americans about the sacrifices our Veterans have made to defend our freedoms.

The Veterans Grand Marshal competition is designed to give the community a chance to nominate Phoenix-area Veterans, to vie for an opportunity to be a Veteran Grand Marshal and ride in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 in Central Phoenix.

The 2017 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshals.

Now in its 22nd year, the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade is one of the premier Veterans Day events in the nation, with tens of thousands of spectators. This year’s parade theme is “Out of the Trenches, A Century of Remembrance,” and commemorates the 100th year of the signing of the Armistice, which ended World War I. Since 2013, HAV has coordinated and promoted this large-scale special event.

“The Parade honors our Veterans and serves as a reminder to educate Americans about the service and sacrifices our Veterans have made to protect our freedoms,” said Aaron Dudney, President of Honoring America’s’s Veterans.  “We encourage anyone who knows a Veteran they feel would be worthy of this honor to submit a nomination.”

As in past years, the Parade Grand Marshals will include seven eras of Veterans:

  • World War II Veteran
  • Korean War Veteran
  • Vietnam Veteran
  • Cold War Veteran
  • Desert Storm Veteran
  • Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran

The Veteran Grand Marshals who are selected as the winning nominees will ride in the Parade, attend a special display opening, attend the parade awards banquet and be recognized at other events leading up to the Parade.  The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade route runs southbound on Central Avenue starting at Montebello, turns east onto Camelback Road and then south on 7th Street, ending at Indian School Road.




Honoring America’s’s Veterans and the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade are so grateful for all our sponsors – without which the Parade would never happen! The team at one of our new sponsors this year, Bank of America, took the time to write about what it means to be involved:


Bank of America Elevates Veteran Support as

New Sponsor of the 2017 Veterans Day Parade



Veterans Day is a time to honor the men and women who dedicated themselves to defending our great country and its freedom, being in service at home and around the world for generations. Every year, Phoenix honors its brave local veterans in several ways, most notably by gathering the community together for the annual Veterans Day Parade. And every year, Bank of America has been there with a full team of employees and family walking in celebration of our freedom.

This year will be no different, with the bank’s contingent in the parade spanning more than 300 participants. Making the walk extra special this year will be a VIP guest by the name of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Graham Dorsey, who the day before on Nov. 10, received keys to a mortgage-free, newly renovated home in Phoenix from Bank of America and the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals. Lance Corp. Dorsey was assigned to the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines India Company for his first deployment to Kuwait in 2003, seeing his share of combat over the years. He served for four years and was honorably discharged in 2006. He is one of the more than 2,100 veterans and families who have received a mortgage-free home from Bank of America since 2012.

Sponsoring this event in Phoenix is another way to expand our support locally by bringing together employees, families and friends to show support and gratitude to veterans locally and across the nation and the globe.  We have been long-time participants in the parade and work with veterans and their families on a daily basis, but stepping into the sponsorship role this year has allowed us to be that much more involved in the parade and all of the activities surrounding it. From participating in meetings to providing volunteers, we’re proud to take our involvement to the next level this year to show support and gratitude to our veterans.

The parade caps off nearly 100 years of the bank’s commitment to the military, veterans and spouses starting in 1920. Today, Bank of America provides financial services to approximately 2 million military households across the country, including of course the active military, veterans and their families right here in the Phoenix area.

The bank focuses on making financial lives better, whether that be through specialized banking services and rates for active military; career recruitment and advancement within the company along with benefits specifically for military and spouses; providing free financial education tailored for the unique needs of military and veterans to make a smooth and successful transition to civilian life; or grants and employee volunteerism with veteran-focused charities and nonprofits to the tune of $18 million nationally since 2009.

While Bank of America works to serve the members of our military and veterans, participation alongside our neighbors in supporting these outstanding Americans helps our team join together even more and allows community members to meet heroes in real life – ones that are even living right next door.

Look for the Bank of America team at this year’s Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, Nov. 11, in downtown Phoenix. To find out more about how to be a sponsor of the Parade in the future, email paula@pedene.com.




As we prepare for our 21st annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade this Saturday, we urge you to consider these ways you can show veterans you care on this important day. (Courtesy of www.military.com)


Attend a Veterans Day event in your area ‒ not just a picnic with friends, but an honest-to-goodness parade or service for veterans. (The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade is a great choice!) Roy Rogers said, “We can’t all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Veterans Day is a great opportunity to do just that.

vets-in-parade-32. DONATE

There are a plethora of wonderful organizations who offer all manner of support, services and appreciation for our service members. To get a few ideas for donations, you can check out this page.


Veterans Day is a great opportunity to fly the flag! Just make sure you’re observing the proper rules for display. Not sure exactly what those are? Check out Military.com’s guide to the flag.


It seems like we all know someone who has served and Veterans Day is a great time to ask them about their service. Some questions to get started are: What did you do in the military? How long did you serve? What was your favorite moment in all your time in the service? Did anyone else in your family serve? Why did you choose to go into the service branch you did? Do not ask if they’ve killed anyone and should your veteran be a combat vet who is either unwilling to share or plainly states what they went through, be supportive without being intrusive. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything, just listen and give them your full attention.


If you know a veteran, write a simple postcard or e-card that recognizes them on Veterans Day. If you don’t know a veteran, look up the closest military installation and send one there. Small acts of recognizing someone’s service, even anonymously, are appreciated.


Veterans Day is a time to thank those who are serving or have served and are still with us. Memorial Day is to reflect and remember those who lost their lives in service to their country. Confusing the two or combining the two diminishes the importance of both.


Find out what the policies are at your nearest VA hospital for interacting with patients or volunteering, and spend the day with a veteran. Many VA facilities will have events on Veterans Day or a special lunch you can help prepare. Even if you never interact with a veteran, helping at a facility is a way to give back.


Invite a veteran or a military family to explore a national park ‒ admission is free for all visitors on Veterans Day. Being outside helps improve physical and mental health, boosts emotional well-being, and is a great way to celebrate the day with a veteran.

We hope you will join us at the 21st Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2017, to see Celebrity Grand Marshal Loretta Swit and all our Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “SILENT SACRIFICE: Honoring Our Cold War Veterans.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly Cold War 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


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A SERVICE MEMBER: The point of view from someone currently serving

Sergeant Nicola Balletto (left) as part of an honor guard detail rendering Military Funeral Honors for a veteran.

Our veterans have the advantage of hindsight when it comes to looking back on their time in the military and what it meant. But what does serving mean to someone currently in the armed forces?

Like many of our veterans can undoubtedly relate to, Nicola Balletto – an Arizonan who is now a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps (selected for promotion to Staff Sergeant) – wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life when she joined the service. “I wanted to make my family proud and do something challenging,” she relates. “The military, and specifically the Marine Corps, provided just that. It gave me the direction and discipline that I desperately needed.”

Balletto says she wasn’t quite sure what she expected when she joined the military and headed off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island for recruit training. “I knew it would be challenging, but I was still very young and just sort of ‘along for the ride,’” she admits. “The reality was that it was challenging – and then some. I have been pushed to limits, both physically and mentally, that I never thought I would encounter before.”

Sergeant Balletto on the range.

Now in her seventh year of service and based at the School of Infantry – East on Camp Geiger (a satellite facility to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina), the 25-year-old Balletto says she’s learned a tremendous amount from her time in the service, and continues to learn more every day. “One of the most important things I’ve learned is independence and problem-solving,” she says. “I make decisions every day that affect many more than just me. That is something I don’t believe I would have learned outside of the military – at least not at my age.”

Like many veterans before her, to Balletto, being a service member means giving up your time and comfort to serve something greater than all of us. When the nation needs them, she and her fellow service members are ready to answer the call, leaving behind loved ones, routines and relative safety for countless unknowns.

Balletto says she would advise anyone considering being in the military to seek out options between the various branches to make sure they get the MOS (military occupational specialty) they find most alluring. “Whether you do ‘four and out’ or stay in 20+ years,” she says, “it’s important to make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. Being in the military is by no means a walk in the park, but it is absolutely rewarding. Prepare for many highs and equal lows, but joining the military is something I do not regret.”

As Veterans Day approaches, Balletto knows first-hand how important it is to honor them – not only on this day, but at all times. “Our veterans give up countless privileges and luxuries in order to help protect our country ‘from all enemies, foreign and domestic,’” she points out. “Veterans sacrifice during and after their service so that others don’t have to. They miss birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and countless ‘firsts,’ just so we can sleep soundly. I’m honored to travel the path that has been paved for me by those who came before me – and I am so thankful for my fellow veterans.”

Join us in honoring our veterans at this year’s Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, Saturday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. in downtown Phoenix. For all you need to know about the parade, click HERE.



We were thrilled to see our Honoring America’s’s Veterans President, Aaron Dudney, featured in a great video by APS!

They say: “Twenty percent of our workforce are veterans, including Aaron Dudney, Manager Information Technology: ‘As far as my job goes at APS today, it’s every bit as fulfilling as when I was in the military.'”