South Mississippians took some time Saturday to honor the men and women who served their country through the armed forces.
The Gulf Coast Veterans Day Parade rolled Saturday though the streets of Biloxi, as spectators lined the streets, many of whom were holding American flags, while representatives from the armed forces walked the route or rode on floats. Several area high schools were represented through their marching bands and/or ROTC programs. First responders, veterans groups and Cub Scout packs also participated in the parade.
The parade was held not only in honor of veterans but also to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport.
U.S. Navy Master Chief Dick Wade, 90, was the parade’s grand marshal. Wade has served in the Navy, U.S. Army and the Seabees.
“I enlisted in 1944,” Wade, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, said Saturday. “I wanted to do it because of patriotism and because my father had been drafted into the military.”
Wade said he served his country in Europe during World War II as a Seabee.
After being released from active duty with the Seabees in 1946, Wade reenlisted in the armed forces with the Army.
From 1980-1983, Wade served as the first Command Master Chief at Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport. He retired from the military in 1996 as Command Master Chief for NCMCB 74. He remained in Gulfport after retiring from the armed forces after serving for 45 years.
“I served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and it was an honor to serve my country in the military,” Wade said.
The Biloxi celebration was just one of several held throughout South Mississippi.
Other events included the 17th annual Jackson County Verterans Day Program at the Moss Point Veterans Day Memorial; A wreath-laying ceremony at the Veterans Tribute Tower at Gautier City hall; and a Veterans Day Parade in Diamondhead.