Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins
AUBURN, Washington – Twenty-four Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) marched in the Auburn 51st Annual Veterans Day Parade alongside the Washington Society of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution color guard, Nov. 5.
Auburn is designated by the Veterans Day National Committee and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a regional site for the celebration of Veterans Day 2016. The city has hosted the parade since 1965 and it is one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the United States, according to the city’s parks department.
“We represent the first veterans,” said Bob O’Neal, the color guard commander for the Washington Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and a retired Army artillery officer. “We are so happy to have the Navy here with us today. They [USS John C. Stennis Sailors] represent our armed forces all over the world. Together, we are carrying on the tradition of military service and we are so happy to have them with us.”
Enlisted Sailors from John C. Stennis’ Combat Systems, Medical, Supply and Weapons departments carried flags down the parade route as hundreds of spectators, clutching both umbrellas and American flags, cheered, applauded and saluted.
“This is not the first time that USS John C. Stennis has participated with the Sons of the American Revolution, but this is my first time and I’m excited,” said Petty Officer 1st Class
Tamara Gholson, who coordinated the community relations (COMREL) opportunity for John C. Stennis. “It’s great to see every branch of service participating in the parade today, even ROTC and Sea Cadets, so we are honored to be representing the Navy.”
The parade featured more than 200 units comprising nearly 6,000 military and civilian personnel, including Navy Band Northwest, representatives from Bremerton Base Submarine Veterans, military vehicles, high school marching bands, veterans associations and various honor guards.
“I like doing COMRELs,” said Seaman Vanessa Abney. “I feel it’s important to honor veterans of every branch and I owe them that respect. It makes me so proud and I just got my ESWS [enlisted surface warfare specialist] pin and it really makes me feel a part of something bigger than I am.”
The parade festivities also featured a 5K fun run, military flyovers by various aircraft, and numerous vendors and veterans resource groups.
KOMO News was onsite to live stream the parade for those unable to attend and the recording can be viewed at http://komonews.com/news/videos/watch-community-honors-veterans-with-auburn-parade