WAHIAWA, Hawaii - The community came out to celebrate past and present veterans as they proudly marched down California Avenue for the 70th Annual Wahiawa Veterans Day parade, here, on Nov. 11.

"The Wahiawa Veterans Day Parade is the oldest, largest and longest running Veterans Day Parade in the State of Hawaii," said Carolyn Hayashi, secretary of the Wahiawa Lions Club and chairman of the Veterans Day parade.

The theme for this year's parade was "Respecting our Veterans" by showing respect and care for veterans.

"We want to show our respect for our veterans from all wars and their families, let them know that they are an integral part of our community," Hayashi said. "They are us and we are them. Our freedoms today are due to their sacrifices, and we will continue to care and respect our veterans as our very own."

Dozens of veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and more recent conflicts marched down the avenue, while less spry veterans after decades of service, but no less determined, rode in vehicles and trolleys to wave at the crowd.

Donald G. Wood, Veterans of Foreign Wars post commander 352 for the city of Mililani, still had the vigor to take the long walk down California Avenue.

"My term in service was from 1963 through 1968 with the U.S. Navy, but I served with the Fleet Marine Force as a hospital corpsman," Wood said. "I served with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division."

He said he had some very good experiences serving with the Marine Corps, making the first amphibious landing at Da Nang to secure the air base in March 8, 1965. Later the Marines secured Marble Mountain Air Facility, and many other missions in the periphery of Da Nang 50 miles out.

"I really enjoyed the experience," he continued. "There's some bad things that happened to us, but you look forward and make the best out of it. I have applied many of the things that I've learned in the military to what I do today."

For Arthur Kaufmann, a former Air Force sergeant and supply specialist who served a year at Phan Rang Air Base during the Vietnam War, found it a mixed day for him.

"It's a mix of honor and mourning, for those who can't be here," Kaufman said.

"My experience in the Air Force was generally good," he continued. "I learned a lot of self-discipline and helped to prepare me when I got out. Interestingly enough my term in Vietnam led me to my profession which is a Buddhist priest, so something good came of it."

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Div., formed the color guard and marching platoon, while the 25th ID Band played patriotic music during the parade. Members of the 1st Bn., 487th Field Artillery Regt., 29th Bde. Combat Team of the Hawaii National Guard, along with 80 organizations, also participated in the procession.

Staff Sgt. Brian Hughes, a native of Euclid, Ohio and assistant operations noncommissioned officer assigned to 2nd Bn., 35th Infantry Regt., 3rd BCT, was recognized for his service by being made the grand marshal for the parade.

"I am honored to serve as the grand marshal especially considering the amount of terrific Soldiers serving in the 25ID who could have been selected," Hughes said. "I was recommended by my battalion command sergeant major due to my commitment to duty, care for Soldiers and combat service."

Hughes, who served four years with the Marine Corps and nearly eight years in the Army with two tours in Iraq, was accompanied by his wife Julia.

"I thank my wife for her loyal support, my family, the families of all veterans, and of course all veterans, especially those I have had the privilege to serve with," he said. "This Veterans Day I am thankful for what veterans have done for our country and the sacrifice they and their families have made and continue to make."