MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Combat Center Marines and sailors showed their appreciation of veterans within the community during the 2015 Morongo Basin Veterans Day Tribute at Veteran’s Park in Twentynine Palms, Calif., and the 19th annual Palm Springs Veterans Day Parade in Palm Springs, Calif., Nov. 11, 2015.
Combat Center Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Lewis A. Craparotta, served as a guest speaker and Capt. Stephen M. Lee, Combat Center Chaplain, performed the closing prayer for the event. In addition, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 Color Guard presented the National and Marine Corps colors and Combat Logistics Battalion 7 and 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion provided a display of military vehicles and 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment displayed an M777 howitzer for the community to look at and learn more about.
Craparotta spoke to the community sharing his personal experiences about his family and the military. He also reminded the community to always appreciate and honor those service members who came before them.
“Every veteran, just by his service, made a choice as to the kind of world they wanted for their children,” said Craparotta. “But whether you volunteered or got drafted, the most important point today is that our citizens have always risen to the occasion and believed in this country enough to protect the freedom and freedom we value so dearly. Today, we honor them by recognizing their service and contribution to our nation and our way of life. I am thankful that we have taken this opportunity to honor our veterans and remember their service.”
Later in the day, as fanfare music and rhythmic beating drums played by a marching band echoed off the San Jacinto Mountains from Palm Canyon Drive, a sense of patriotism and pride was felt over the crowd of veterans, active-duty service members and civilians with the passing of the Combat Center Color Guard and military vehicles at the 19th annual Palm Springs Veterans Day Parade in Palms Springs, Calif.
The Combat Center Color Guard and the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital Color Guard displayed and marched the National and Marine Corps colors in the parade. Combat Center Chief of Staff, Col. James F. Harp; Col. Harold B. Eggers, commanding officer, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School and Sgt. Maj. Ryan W. Meltesen, battalion sergeant major, Combat Logistics Battalion 7 were among those in attendance. Lt. Cmdr. Paul Armstrong, chaplain, MCCES, gave the opening invocation to begin the parade.
3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and CLB-7 displayed two High Mobility Multi-purposed Vehicle, two Light Armored Vehicles and a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement in the parade.
“It’s an honor being here and representing the base and the Marine Corps,” said Lance Cpl. Felipe Rodriguez, motor transportation operator, CLB-7. “Seeing all the veterans from all the branches of service makes it worthwhile and listening to their stories makes me proud to wear my uniform.”
Veterans from every war dating back to WWII shared stories and looked at the vehicles that the Marines from CLB-7 and 3rd LAR utilize on the modern battlefield.
“It’s definitely different from the stuff we had in my day,” said Burton Spivack, WWII Army veteran. “It is a lot better and this equipment shows how far we have come and also the might of the U.S. military today.”
The history of Veterans Day began in November 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, to honor the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory of WWI. In 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of troops in the Nation’s history and after the brutal fighting during the Korean War, it became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
“There are a lot of people who sacrificed a lot, some even their lives, for this beautiful country,” said Ken Burdutte, Vietnam War Navy veteran. “It is important to honor all of them. Seeing all of the Marines and other service members out here participating in the parade today makes me and a lot of the veterans in the crowd proud that we served and that our military is still in good hands.”