ELKO — “Old Glory,” along with its sister flags of the military, flew proudly throughout the second annual Armed Forces Day parade on Saturday. Elko County Sheriff Jim Pitts led the parade, followed directly by the Civil Air Patrol Color Guard and Squadron.
The downtown parade followed the new route, starting at the 600-block of Commercial Street and ending on 11th Street.
According to Kay Moore, secretary of POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association, there were over 30 entries this year, triple the number from last year’s event.
Moore, also co-chairperson of the day’s event, alongside Katie Bryant, public affairs officer of the POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association, said “I’m so excited ... It’s an amazing turnout.”
This single day celebration originally stemmed from the unification of the armed forces under the Department of Defense, headed by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson on Aug. 31, 1949.
Community members lined the streets, with their “red, white and blue” spirits, to pay their respect, honor and support the people who served our country — past, present and future.
This year’s parade theme was “Honoring Women Veterans,” with female veteran, Wauneta “Billie” Laughlin of Wells, serving as Grand Marshal.
“It’s such an honor ... To be included in something like this is pretty awesome. It’s amazing the armed forces are honored. I’d really like to thank those who are serving our country, now,” said the 77-year-old Army veteran.
“Women today are in combat, which I felt we should have been able to do also, because we were trained. I admire the women who are in combat. They’re absolutely just as capable as serving in that position because of the same kind of training ... Good for them. I’m glad it’s come to the point where women can serve right beside the guys,” she added.
Flowers donated by Walmart and corsages, donated by Blooms & Grooms, were presented to female veterans and also presented along parade route.
Elko’s former Marine Corp recruiter Jim Gibson, returned to town to join in the day’s festivities, greeting the children alongside the parade route. He said, “Elko will always be a little bit of home for me.”
Les Brown, director of POW/MIA Elko Awareness, Association said, “One of the highlights of this community is, it’s very patriotic.”
“We would all like to thank the participants, the community and the businesses that supported this parade. We couldn’t do it without the community that we have. They’re supportive of pretty much anything we do,” Moore concluded.
This year’s participants included: Jim Pitts, Elko County sheriff; Civil Air Patrol Color Guard and Squadron; Navy League of the U.S., Elko Council; Coldwell Banker; Elko County Sheriff Cadets; Grand Marshal Wauneta “Billie” Laughlin; POW/MIA veteran float; Loyd Fonda, Elko Community Indian Foot Soldiers; Elko Shriners; Relay For Life, sponsored by Elko Motor Co.; Ruby Mountain Pawn & The Live Rude Girls; Coach USA; Elko Police and Elko County Sheriff Departments combined Honor Guard; Elko County Sheriff’s Deputies; V.F.W. Post 2350 Boat Entry; V.F.W. Ladies Auxiliary Post 2350; Stonecraft Jewelry love bug; Ed’s Towing; American Legion Post No. 7 and American Legion Riders; Westates Theatres; Lauri Brown-Missing Soldier Table; Ruby Mountain Balloon Club; Al Park Petroleum; Walmart Supercenter; Army recruiting; Riverton Chevrolet; Neff’s Diesel; Get My Ride; Marine recruiting; Nevada Division of Forestry; Silver State A’s. V-L Rodeo Productions’ and POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association.