Veterans parade honors America's finest

By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Saturday was a day to honor men and women in uniform. This year's Veterans Day parade comes on the heels of the deadliest shooting in history at a U.S. military base in Fort Hood, Texas. Hundreds of people flocked to downtown Gulfport in honor of U.S. soldiers.

Saturday's parade was a reminder to soldiers they truly are American heroes. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Disabled veteran, Joe Ladnier, fought in the Vietnam War. He was 17 years old when he was drafted to the military. He says he remembers moments in Vietnam vividly.

"Half tents would snap together and making a bed for us to sleep on. You had someone with you every night that would help you set up the tent and an air mattress. We were giving a certain type of blanket that kept us dry, but not always warm," said Joe Ladnier.

Ladnier says as soon as he arrived in Vietnam he was sent to the jungle. That is where he ate, slept and fought during the war.

Ladnier along with hundreds of other people lined the streets in Gulfport Saturday hoping their presence would make a difference to the men and women who continue to fight for the red, white and blue.

"I'm honored that they are coming to say thank you," said Major General Mary Kay Hertog.

Major General Mary Kay Hertog serves as the Commander, 2nd Air Force, at Keesler Air Force Base. She was among the Veterans marching in the parade.

"It is so important for us to honor our vets simply because what they have sacrificed for us; they are our legacy."

"Thank you America, for the ability to serve this country," said Joe Ladnier.

Saturday's Grand Marshall was Commander Sergeant Major Adelchi Pilutti. He served in World War II.

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