Veterans Day Parade Part 3

The last post left off at the Korean Vets.  After they came by, there was an interesting group:  the Merchant Marine.  Not the Marines, mind you, the Merchant Marine.  The Merchant Marine aren’t a military group directly, but they operate under the auspices of the Navy during wartime.  And, as the float states, they suffered terribly during WWII.  The float has a statement that they had the highest casualty rate in the war with 1 out of every 32 sailors being killed.  I hate to quibble, but it’s really the highest American casualty rate.  The kamikazis and the German U-boats had higher rates.  I’ll bicker a little bit more:  according to the merchant marine records, the casualty rate was even higher:  1 out of 26 sailors died.  And, as their sign said:  they were all volunteers.  Incredible stuff.

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The merchant marines were followed by Vietnam Vets.

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The next guy, a Vietnam vet, came by handing out flags.  As the announcer kept saying to the vets:  welcome home.

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Another foreign veteran group came and it was a bit of a mixup on the part of the announcers.

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Their signs said “ROC” and one of the announcers thought they meant “ROK” (Republic of Korea).  After about 15 seconds of extolling their service he was informed it was the Republic of China (Taiwan).  He then did a complete mea culpa and extolled them again.  Just one of those things.

The last of the foreign vets came by:  Korean veterans of the Vietnam War.  Apparently they were the biggest group besides the Americans and the South Vietnamese to have fought in that war.

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After them, another group of re-enactors.

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The next group was the single most impressive group in the parade.  It was the 77th RRC of Ft. Totten, New York.  “RRC” stands for “Regional Readiness Command”.  There were 1500 soldiers in the march, of which (we were told over and over again) 500 had just returned from Iraq.  These guys got a very warm welcome from all of us.

The one thing that I learned about them during this writeup is that they are the same group known as “the Lost Battalion” of World War I.  In that battle, 554 of them were separated from a coordinated attack and spent days surrounded and under attack by the German army.  In the end, after six days of battle and near starvation in early October 1918, only 194 of them emerged uncaptured and able to continue to take up arms.  The story in the link is quite inspiring.  It’s a story of confusion, gallantry, medals of honor, and communication by a carrier pigeon that became a legend among the school children of a long-ago age.

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The start of the marchers.

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And they kept coming.  The different companies within the marchers were often calling out in cadence.  Very impressive.

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And they kept coming.

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You have to remember that these are just a very few of a whole bunch of pictures of these guys.

And there were other veterans.  Here’s a group of vets from Afghanistan and Iraq.

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A rather unexpected, but terrific sight:  veterans from the City University of New York (CUNY).

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Followed by a Navy drill team.  They performed in front of the reviewing stand and, idiot that I am, I didn’t realize what they were doing until the very end.

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There was even a contingent from the Coast Guard.  They, too, serve in our foreign wars; most famously in Vietnam.

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I’ve deliberately included few of the high schools that participated.  There were hundreds and hundreds of Junior ROTC cadets marching for who-knows-how-many local high schools.  I was surprised and pleased that a number of them were geared toward the Air Force.  Unfortunately, the high school presence (with their leaders) were the only Air Force representation in the parade.  Now, my family is closely aligned with the Air Force, so I’m definitely predisposed to support them.  But I really can’t find much praise for this:

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Who are they trying to appeal to?  Toddlers?

Following this display, there was a nice support by a commercial company:  U-Haul.  It was founded by a Navy Vet and the announcer said that they give a lot of support to military families.  I’ve no doubt it’s true, but when I was a kid, all we ever seemed to see for moving was Mayflower.

More in Part 4.

-H

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