Honoring Our Veterans 2015

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Celebrating Veterans Day 2015 photo: 2015

On Wednesday, November 11th   Veterans Day, thousands came out to show their support and honor the veterans. All branches of the military were in uniform as they marched through the city in St Augustine’s first Veterans Day Parade held in conjunction with the city’s 450th Anniversary.

The parade traveled past the countries first military fortress, The Castillo de San Marcos Fort where a review stand was erected. Members of the military, city and county commissioners and other local officials were assembled under a tent listening to the announcer introduce the groups as they passed  by.

Leading the parade was a formation of personnel, representing the military history of St. Augustine. Outfitted in period dress, the British, Spanish and American soldiers marched in tactical order holding flags from all the different periods of St Augustine.

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Representatives from the U.S. Army Recruiting Center march in the parade. photo: 2015

Representatives from the U.S. Army Recruiting Center stationed in St Augustine were getting ready to march in the parade. Staff Sergeants Michael Kube, Veronica Davis and Marc Gable were dressed in their Army Service Uniform, proudly representing the U.S. Army.

“We are here to show support for those who came before us, for those who serve today and for those who will serve in the future,” said Staff Sargent Gable as he stood in formation before the parade.

“We know all the ROTC kids,” shared Staff Sargent Michael Kube, the Center Leader at the U.S. Army Recruitment Center on US 1.  “The army offers these kids the opportunity to serve their country, paid education, career enhancement as well as the chance to travel and see the world.”

Close to 10% of the graduating seniors in St Johns County choose to enter the military.  Both males and females have joined the armed forces. “This is an exciting time for women in the military to make history,” shared Staff Sargent Veronica Davis. “Opportunities that have never been open in the past are now available to women.”

And making history they are… According to Davis, the first female to graduate from Army Ranger school graduated this year. “We [the army] are the first branch to have that happen,” said Davis. You could hear the excitement in her voice and see the pride in her eyes as she shared that information.

The United States Army Ranger School is a combat leadership course oriented toward small-unit tactics. It has been called the “toughest combat course in the world” and “is the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer

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Gueits with his family and representatives. photo: 2015

16 year old Andrew Gueits was there with his father and grandfather, all dressed in the period uniform of the Spanish soldier. “We are here to represent the Heroes of the American Revolution,” said Gueits as they waited at Francis Field for the parade to start.  Salvador Garcia Herreros with the Spanish embassy was also with the group. “We are working in conjunction with the embassy of Spain to support the veterans.” Gueits continued.

Old Town Trolley supported the veterans in a special way. Those who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and other tours of duty took a seat on the trolley for a ride along the route.

As thousands cheered on the Veterans we are once again reminded that the ultimate price has been paid for freedom.  From the beginning of this country’s history many would say the Veteran has had our back!