TRINIDAD, Colo. - She remembers 50 years ago when a baby-faced Soldier took her hand and led her to a tall man with gray hair and a silver bird on his chest. She never forgot the opportunity they gave to a 14-year-old girl.
"Because of that day, I got job so I could go to school, help my mom and feed my brother and sister," said Linda Barron, a Vietnam refugee now living in Trinidad, Colorado. "Because of that day, I am here today and I want to thank you and all of the military. Thank you so much."
Residents of Trinidad gathered with military veterans and Soldiers to celebrate the fifth annual Trinidad Armed Forces Day with a parade and barbecue May 16, 2015.
On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace the separate Army, Navy and Air Force days.
"Today we take time to thank our service men and women for preserving our freedom, we thank them for their service, their sacrifice and their commitment," said Col. Joel D. Hamilton, Fort Carson garrison commander, who served as the grand marshal for the event, "while remembering that they need us to stand with them and their families."
A color guard bearing the United States and Army flags led 25 Soldiers of the 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the 4th Infantry Division Band in the parade.
"The community is what allows us to do what we do and without their support we can't train and conduct missions," said Capt. Patrick M. Foley, assistant operations, 299th BEB, 1st SBCT, 4th Infantry Division. "Knowing that they have our back and that they fully support us gives us the motivation to carry on and do everything that we're asked to do by this country."
At the barbecue following the parade, current and former service members shared stories and a meal with Trinidad community members.
"I'm very proud of these young Soldiers," said Joseph Van Loon, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Philippines and on the USS Midway. "Any veteran, any person who has served in the armed forces deserves my utmost respect."