Monday, December 18th, 2017

Veterans Day celebration deemed a huge success

Posted: Friday, November 17, 2017

Veterans Day for 2017 will go in the history books as one of the best ever. This year’s event included new plaques to recognize the KIA’s (killed in action) from the Korean War and Vietnam War, and a monument and statue to recognize all the veterans who served in Vietnam. Topping off this year’s event was the visit of the American Huey 369 from its home in Peru, Indiana.

The 2017 parade had a record number of entries and began staging at Huntington North High School at 8:30 a.m. for a 10 a.m. start time. Prior to the start, American Huey 369 arrived at 9:45 a.m. and landed on the front lawn of the high school. Once the helicopter landed, veterans from the VFW Post 2689 led a group of seven honored veterans down the staging route between more than 50 motorcycles, where they stopped in front of the Huey to begin the parade by the playing of the National Anthem.

The parade began at HNHS, traveled east on MacGahan Street, south on N. Jefferson Street and then west on W. Park Drive. At the park, those in the parade were met by roughly 800 individuals who attended this year’s celebration. Those in attendance heard from Veterans Service Officer Tim Eckert; Mayor Brooks Fetters; Hodge Patel, State Director for U.S. Senator Joe Donnelley and Chris Crabtree, Senior Advisor for U.S. Rep. Jim Banks. Taryn Fusselman led those in attendance in the singing of the National Anthem.

During the event those from Huntington County killed in action from the Korean War and the Vietnam War were recognized with the unveiling of the plaques. Once the plaques were unveiled, the monument of the Vietnam War and the statue of Thomas A. Parker were unveiled. The monuments are in memory of all those who served during the Vietnam War. Thomas A. Parker is the only soldier from Huntington County whose remains were never returned to the United States. Parker was killed on April 5, 1967.

Special during the celebration was the arrival of American Huey 369. The Huey is known by its special thump, thump sound and was always recognized by the soldiers as “help is on the way.” Those same feelings from more than 50 years ago resonated throughout Huntington on Saturday and especially during the Veterans Day celebration. Pilot John Walker arrived at the park where he flew over the park to assess the situation, hovered overhead for a few seconds, banked to the left and banked to the right very similar to protocol in Vietnam. Once that was completed, Walker then returned throttled full speed and flew over the park about twenty feet above the trees as if he were taking the wounded to area hospitals.

American Huey 369 then returned to HNHS where a group of more than 30 volunteers shared with those attending the history of the Vietnam War, the significance of the Huey and the era of the Vietnam War. Volunteers of American Huey 369 talk with other veterans, share stories and hopefully help bring healing to all those veterans who served their country during that time.

Shown in the photo are six of the seven Vietnam honor flight veterans after being presented a gift from Rachel Zahm, daughter of Thomas A. Parker. Pictured in the photo on front row from left are Steven Schnitz, Mike Harrell, Bruce Stanton, former Veterans Service Officer and Rex Luey. Back row, from left includes Marshall Sanders, Tim Eckert, Veterans Service Officer, Rachel Zahm, Richard “Gomer” Endsley and Steve Kimmel, Huntington County Chamber of Commerce. Gary Minton this year’s grand marshal and honor flight veteran was not pictured.