Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Veterans’ Day in Mesa, AZ: Bigger and Better

 

For decades, the Phoenix Veterans’ Day parade dominated the state, and certainly the Valley of the Sun. While Mesa has always hosted a parade, it has been much smaller, and less spectacular. This year’s East Valley Veterans Parade was bigger, better, and showed signs of truly being the East Valley Veterans Parade, hosted by Mesa.

Mesa Mayor John Giles and the city council participated, as always, but this year they were joined by Mayor Jenn Daniels and the town council of Gilbert. As the Mesa Police Department led the parade, with a line of motorcycle officers, and a marching unit, the Gilbert Police Department countered with a restomodded heavy Chevy.

Great credit is due to the Mesa Police Department, who once again ran a totally professional operation, facilitating parade movement, while discreetly securing the area against the threat of attack by vehicle. School buses, and other city vehicles, blocked access to the closed, controlled, parade route. Officers were visible, in their dress uniforms, without tactical gear — a reassuring, rather than intimidating presence.

The parade had all the required elements. There were beauty queens and high school marching bands. Miss Arizona rode in the parade, as did Miss Phoenix and Miss Scottsdale.

There were dogs and ponies.

Wait, what! Dogs and a motorcycle? One of the VFW members rode his Harley in the parade, with his dogs in a trailer. That merits serious parade bonus points.

While the Air Force did not provide flyovers by modern aircraft, the Commemorative Air Force set just the right tone for a parade honoring our veterans. The parade was started with a C-47 fly-over, with multiple passes as the Mesa Police Department led the ground elements of the parade. The C-47 was the WWII Allies’ transport workhorse. The Stearman biplane team made several passes with smoke generators running. Finally, a highly polished UH-1 Huey helicopter, of Vietnam War fame, made loops around the parade route.

Throughout the parade, beyond the CAF overhead, were representations of veterans and veterans organizations. To start, there was an unassuming entry, which warranted viewers’ special admiration: a survivor of the USS Indianapolis.

The VFW rotates service themes each year, driving old Army armored cars and jeeps this year, and the Navy Seabees had a vintage light truck entry.

There is always a dedicated group from the Buffalo Troopers Motorcycle Club, reminding us of the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, much of it connected to Fort Huachuca, AZ.

Then somebody kicked it up a notch. The Mesa Veterans Resource Center got a 1970s era M60 tank, and then made the necessary coordination to get a Heavy Equipment Transport tractor and trailer, with crew, from the Army Reserve company in Marana, an hour south of Mesa. I commanded the reserve battalion, to which the 257th Transportation Company belonged, before 11 September 2001, and we always had requests to support the Phoenix parade, which we were happy to do. 257th Transportation Company is one of a handful of such companies in the total force, so they deployed twice to Iraq, hauling tanks and other heavy equipment in and out of country.

The largest entry promoting their organization’s support for veterans was a massed group of East Valley Institute of Technology students, each wearing shirts showing their program within the school. They have strong veteran outreach, connecting to real civilian jobs. A school official thanked the massed student body, as they turned off the end of the parade route, for volunteering their Monday morning to march in the parade.

The largest, and most impressive entry, after all the dogs, ponies, marching bands, planes, and vehicles, was the joint formation of two large high school Air Force Junior ROTCs. Each cadet carried high a banner with the image of a fallen hero, honoring a century of sacrifice.

As they exited the parade line, into the de-staging area, the banners filled the block.

Some of these young people will put on their nation’s uniform. They will take up the cause laid down by our honored war dead, and by the veterans, young and old, represented in the East Valley Veterans Parade. The parade, on a sunny November day, left parade goers with a brighter view of our future.

There are 8 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. MarciN Member

    Wonderful pictures. It’s just like being there! 

    Thank you. 

     

    • #1
    • November 13, 2018, at 8:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks @cliffordbrown 

    This post reminds me of Claire Berlinski’s short knowledge base article “Eleven Tips on How to Write a Great Post” (no-one follows them all, even Claire doesn’t always follow them all), but #7:

    “Find stuff no one else has seen–don’t link to Drudge; everyone’s seen that already. Search academic journals, arcane government reports, the local newspapers in rural Pakistan. And especially, the news from your home town”

    makes Ricochet the most interesting site on the Internet most days. And your post shows why.

    (I call Tip #10:

    “Read the post out loud to your wife or husband, or cat, or dog, or parakeet. If they don’t want to talk about it, it’s probably boring. If they don’t laugh at the joke, it almost certainly wasn’t funny. It’s not them, it’s you”

    the @kentforrester tip. For reasons which will be self-evident to anyone who’s read a few of his posts.

    There are other tips that remind me, in one way or another, of other members. I won’t mention which, or who. I’ve found the tips to be very helpful, though.

    Thanks again for this post.

    • #2
    • November 14, 2018, at 6:07 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Wonderful pictures. It’s just like being there!

    Thank you.

     

    Credit due to @rightangles. Her informative article, Be a Stock Photographer Like Me! Eliminating Boredom, inspired me to pull my DSLR camera out of a storage trunk, and charge up the battery, after years of non-use. The aircraft photos would have been impossible without that camera lens, and other photographs would not have been as sharp.

    I had fallen into the habit of just using the increasingly good optics and software in my smart phone. However, you just do not get the optical zoom needed in a package that fits in your pocket.

    When I bought a DSLR, to succeed my Pentax K-1000, purchased in 1986, I wanted a relatively compact form. I figured I would be more likely to take such a camera with me. I ended up with a Canon EOS Rebel SL1. I used it for a bit, then ended up just using my LG phone, not wanting to pack the camera in my carry-on, or store it in my car trunk. The @rightangles photo essay and the WWI Armistice centennial prompted me to rethink that choice.

    • #3
    • November 14, 2018, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. MarciN Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Wonderful pictures. It’s just like being there!

    Thank you.

     

    Credit due to @rightangles. Her informative article, Be a Stock Photographer Like Me! Eliminating Boredom, inspired me to pull my DSLR camera out of a storage trunk, and charge up the battery, after years of non-use. The aircraft photos would have been impossible without that camera lens, and other photographs would not have been as sharp.

    I had fallen into the habit of just using the increasingly good optics and software in my smart phone. However, you just do not get the optical zoom needed in a package that fits in your pocket.

    When I bought a DSLR, to succeed my Pentax K-1000, purchased in 1986, I wanted a relatively compact form. I figured I would be more likely to take such a camera with me. I ended up with a Canon EOS Rebel SL1. I used it for a bit, then ended up just using my LG phone, not wanting to pack the camera in my carry-on, or store it in my car trunk. The @rightangles photo essay and the WWI Armistice centennial prompted me to rethink that choice.

    Well, we all benefited. :-) 

    • #4
    • November 14, 2018, at 11:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Wonderful post. I just love the feel of a small town parade (even though Mesa isn’t that small). The ponies, dogs and motorcycle, and ponies and dogs . . . well you get it. Thanks, @cliffordbrown.

    • #5
    • November 14, 2018, at 12:32 PM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Wonderful post. I just love the feel of a small town parade (even though Mesa isn’t that small). The ponies, dogs and motorcycle, and ponies and dogs . . . well you get it. Thanks, @cliffordbrown.

    Apparently a bit too small town for the state established media? As there is no daily paper printed in the East Valley, Ricochet may be the most prominent site featuring a story on this event.

    A local television station, 12 News, did a 1 minute piece. Kudos to them for running a segment, as to the quality and the story told, you judge. 

    An Arizona couple, Aaron and Tina, JonesN2Travel, created a YouTube video of the Mesa parade. Is their video better than the news professionals’?

    Here is a blog, with lots of photographs, of the Phoenix Veterans’ Day parade.

    As for other news stories:

    • #6
    • November 14, 2018, at 4:40 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Sweezle Member

    What a great post! I love parades and the photos really brought this one to life. TY for sharing this patriotic and truly American day. It makes me so proud.

     

    • #7
    • November 14, 2018, at 6:27 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Two more images from 12 November, Veterans’ Day observances:

    After the parade, outside the downtown Mesa VFW:

    And in the anteroom of the Cider Corps, a combat veteran Marine’s business.

    • #8
    • November 15, 2018, at 4:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.