3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers help local communities honor veterans
November 14, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team participated in several events held in local communities to help honor service members past and present over a four-day Veterans Day period that began Friday.
The Soldiers supported several functions held by some of the nearby local communities, including a reflection ceremony at the Lowville Academy and Central School in Lowville, where they placed the school's national colors in front of the school, helping the faculty and staff to recognize veterans and the sacrifices they made for the country.
The crowning event the brigade supported was the Veterans Day parade held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
The 10th Mountain Division Band as well as Soldiers representing all six of the brigade's battalions marched and provided the color guard carrying the flags of the United States, the Department of the Army and the 10th Mountain Division. They were received by excited crowds.
Also featured in the parade were military vehicles provided by two of 3rd Brigade Combat Team's six units -- the 710th Brigade Support Battalion and the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment. The vehicles were later made available for public viewing as static displays on the fairgrounds.
"We had about 10 to 20 Soldiers who did not deploy forward to Afghanistan with the rest of the brigade," said 1st Sgt. Richard Hernandez of 4th Battalion, 25th Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The brigade's Soldiers were happy to lend a hand in spite of the unusually cold weather.
"Being here on a Saturday and in the cold was a bit of a bummer for them, but for many of them, it was their first opportunity to visit the central New York area," Hernandez said. "They understand the significance of marching in a Veterans Day parade, especially in the central New York parade, which is one of the larger ones."
For Hernandez as well as the Soldiers who participated in the parade, it was also an opportunity to give back to communities that have supported the 10th Mountain Division and service members in general.
"I've never seen so much support in all of my 20 years in the Army," Hernandez said. "And here you could really see the support that the New York citizens give the veterans."
The appreciation shown by the crowd as well as by the veterans watching from the side or participating in the parade was genuine and eagerly demonstrated. For some of the veterans, such as Mitch Longley, a Navy veteran who had served in Vietnam and who currently serves as junior commander of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, it was an emotional time.
"It's a feeling you can't describe," said Longley as he visibly held back tears, paused for a moment and then went on. "I guess it's mainly pride."