Diana Pike is an Army veteran, mentor, executive and Gold Star Mom. No stranger to challenges, Pike had a difficult start growing up in Compton, California, but knew she wanted more from life. So a week after graduating from high school in 1975, she joined the Women’s Army Corps. After basic training, she attended Morse Incept Operator School in Boston, working in Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) from Japan to Germany for more than a dozen years.
As a Staff Sergeant, she served in Berlin during the pivotal occupation in the early 1980s. Sergeant First Class Pike retired from the Army in 1988, but continued to work in intelligence as part of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Virginia.
In 1993, a tragic car accident left Diana’s two young children, Christian and Denise, without a father.
She sold everything and tried to find a quieter life in Arizona to raise her children. She said it was also good to get away from the stress and haunting images at work. “Terrorism has never gone away, it’s always been there,” she says.
Pike took it upon herself to teach Christian the things she imagined he would have learned from his father Michael, like shooting and working on cars. She also sent him to “Outward Bound” each summer to bond with others and push his limits. Diana beams, “He never doubted himself. He felt he was capable of anything.”
Christian enlisted in the U.S Navy in 2001, also drawn to intelligence. In March 2013, he was mortally wounded during a fierce gun battle in Afghanistan. Diana found herself in Germany once again, but this time in Landstuhl, to say goodbye to her only son, Cryptologist Tech Chief Christian Pike. “It never occurred to me that he wouldn’t come home – until I got that phone call,” she says. The Gold Star Mom says her son loved his life and she’s grateful they left nothing unsaid.
Co-worker Judy Austed points out, “Even after the loss of her son, Diana has helped my son’s effort to enlist in the U.S. Navy and continues to support him while he serves.”
With the GI Bill, Pike earned her master’s degree in leadership at Western International University and works as a Human Resources Developer for Fox TV, but finds time to volunteer with the “Remembering our Fallen from Arizona” display around the state. “The images of fallen service members since 9/11 on that wall are Arizona children, and my son’s,” she says.
Pike was honored by her selection as a Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshal, but stresses, “I would like the emphasis on thanking our veterans. It’s important to know we are still a country at war, and there will be more veterans in years to come.”
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.