American Legion named next year's Veterans Day Parade organizer

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 02:48 PM.

Standing across Main Street was George Ballard, who had a 20-year career in the Army, serving in Vietnam, Germany, France, Okinawa, the Philippines, and in the U.S. from Alaska to North Dakota before retiring at Fort Rucker, Ala., in 1979.

“I was one of those who received the notice that says, ‘Greetings. You are hereby ordered to report,’” Ballard said. “Back in those days, the military was not as popular. I sometimes think we should have the draft today.”

The diverse group of participants paraded up Main Street in diverse modes of transport. There were Shriners’ racing carts and all-terrain vehicles, antique cars, 7th Special Forces Group armored vehicles, wreckers, one “Hillbilly Cadillac” (a rusty antique pick-up truck), the Crestview Police Department’s patriotically painted Humvee, wreckers and civic leaders in golf carts.

Retired Chief Petty Officer Keith Van Doren cruised along, standing on a trailer towing one of the Blackwater ATV Club’s vehicles as he tossed candy to cheering supporters. He had entered the Navy during the Korean War, serving from 1952 until his 1978 retirement.

“I’m honoring all my fellow veterans today,” Van Doren said.

Crestview City Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. was among the participants, wearing his Air Force sergeant’s blues as he piloted his ATV up Main Street. He retired after 28 years in the Air Force.

Many marchers on foot included Cub Scout packs, Crestview and Baker high school JROTC battalions and bands, and the Shoal River Middle School band. Members of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office posse clattered by on horseback.

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