Hear the Stories from the Grand Marshals of the 2017 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

  • What: Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshals, including Veterans from World War II to present day, share their stories of service to our country
  • When: 5 p.m. Media Availability; 5:30 p.m. Public; Wed. Oct. 4, 2017
  • Where: KTAR Classroom, 7740 N. 16th Street, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85020

Honoring America’s’s Veterans (HAV) is hosting a Parade Grand Marshals introductory event on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at the KTAR Studios in Phoenix.  The event is open early for media at 5 p.m. and then at 5:30 p.m. for the public. Refreshments will be provided. (Pre-registration for the public is required as seating is limited. To register, click HERE.)

The Marshals include:

  • Chief Master Sgt. (USAF-Ret.) Harold Bergbower, World War II, U.S. Air Force (Army Air Corp): Bergbower served for 30 years, beginning with a tour in the Philippines from 1940-42. During this time, he was injured by bomb shrapnel and declared dead at the hospital. He awoke in the morgue and walked back to his unit. Closer to the end of his tour, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for 39 months. He survived the Bataan Death March. Since retiring in 1969, Bergbower has been an active member of his community. He volunteered for many years with the Peoria Unified School District, the Phoenix Zoo, and continues to share his experiences with the service members at Luke Air Force Base. He is a resident of Peoria.
  • Melvin Brody, Korean War, U.S. Navy: Brody served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 until 1955 as an Electrician Mate 2nd Class, aboard the USS Richard B Anderson, DD786, where it operated off the coast of Korea providing escort and plane guard duty for aircraft carriers. Following discharge, he graduated from college and began a 34-year career with Nutone, Inc. Brody has demonstrated a lifetime commitment, including Scouting, the B’nai Brith Jewish service organization (where he was instrumental in bringing Soviet Jews to the U.S.), working with Habitat for Humanity, serving as Chairmen of various veteran’s groups, including Unified Arizona Veterans. In 2005, he was elected to the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame and is a co-founder of the Veterans Hall of Fame Society. He is a resident of Scottsdale.
  • Colonel (USA-Ret.) Larry Leighton, Vietnam, U.S. Army: Leighton served 28 years, retiring as a Colonel. He was awarded the Purple Heart after suffering wounds during a night assault in 1970 in Vietnam, where he was a forward observer. He pursued a distinguished military career that included staff and command positions in the Pentagon and South Korea. He attended the Army Command and General Staff College, War College and National Defense University. After retiring, Leighton founded the 501(c)(3) Corte Bella Vets, which has been responsible for contributing over $110,000 to Arizona veteran charities and individual veterans. He is a resident of Sun City.
  • Command Chief Master Sergeant (USAF-Ret.) Bernard O’Keefe, Cold War, U.S. Air Force: O’Keefe served for nearly 27 years and played a crucial role in the initial operational development of the Ground Launched Cruise Missile School and 38th Tactical Missile Wing, earning eight Meritorious Services Medals. He was a security police officer for both Minuteman and Titan missile fields, and held other security positions during the Cold War. After he retired, he taught at Desert Vista High School, and coached football and fast-pitched softball. During his teaching years, he earned numerous accolades, including The Tempe Diablos Excellence in Education for Going Above and Beyond and Junior Achievement’s Teacher of the Year. He is a resident of Mesa.
  • Major General (USA-Ret.) John Scott, Desert Storm, U.S. Army: Scott began his military career as an ROTC cadet at Florida State University and retired as a Major General in 2003. With nine years on active duty and 26 in the reserves, Scott has served in a wide variety of positions, from a combat tracker and rifle platoon leader in Vietnam to the Senior Operations Officer of the Army’s Information Systems Command at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. He is a deacon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and volunteers with outreach missions to veterans. He also spent time in Durango, Colorado, teaching disabled veterans how to ski in an adaptive sports program. He is a resident of Gilbert.
  • Chief Warrant Officer (USA-Ret.) Richard Arnold, Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Army: Arnold spent his military service in the cockpit of Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters. He was deployed multiple times, including Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As his unit’s standardization instruction pilot, he developed 94 aviators and 68 non-rated crewmembers in four flight companies. In 2011 during a deployment to Afghanistan, he earned the Order of Dedalian U.S. Army Exceptional Pilot Award for flying a rescue mission to extract emergency personnel. He took fire during this mission and brought home a fallen hero and his unit. He is a resident of El Mirage.
  • Raul Sanchez, Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. Army National Guard: Sanchez is a 10-year Army veteran who has deployed to Kosovo, Afghanistan, twice and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While deployed in Afghanistan, Sanchez worked as a Financial Management Technician and was also in charge of Outserve: Afghan, serving more than 400 active military members and bringing together soldiers who have had no support during their military service. Sanchez later changed his specialty to Media Engagement Specialist and deployed to Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba, where he worked with every media outlet assigned to GTMO. During his tour, Sanchez was chosen for a secret mission as a Combat Cameraman on the Island and received a Letter of Commendation from the Naval Commander of Guantanamo Bay. He is a resident of Phoenix.

Three additional Grand Marshals will also be present:

  • Veteran Community Grand Marshal Captain (USN-RET) Carol Culbertson who serves on more than 17 volunteer boards and is an Arizona Hall of Fame member.
  • Arizona Pageant Queen Grand Marshal Katie Schaaf, the daughter of two USAF Veterans, who was crowned Miss High School America 2017.
  • Business Community Grand Marshal Craig Opel of Arizona Public Service, who is a retired USMC veteran who served with Special Forces. He is currently a senior leader at APS, a corporate sponsor of the event.

HAV will also reveal their Celebrity Grand Marshal at the event.

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 21st year. The parade is presented by Honoring America’s’s Veterans, a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to honor and recognize those military service members who have served our country.