Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Memorial Day Record Turnout for Beirut Vets!!

Record Turnout! Beirut Vets, Families Well Represented at National Memorial Day Parade
Photo: JulieWard
By Bill Kibler
Twenty-Five! That’s how many people made the trip to be part of the Beirut entry in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washing- ton, D.C. May 31, 2010.
This record number in- cluded: Major Bob Jordan and his wife, Evi from Ft. Meade, MD; Randy and Julie Ward and their 3 children from Orlando, FL; Jimmy and Janet Young and their 2 children from Baltimore, MD; Wayne and Kathy Hodges, their daughter and grandson in tow with the “Beirut Bug” who drove up the night before from Roanoke, VA; Les and Linda Kameck from Cuba, NY; Anthony “Boots” Leboutiller from SC; Ceasar Valdez from Washington, DC; and weekend organizer Bill Kibler from Washington, DC. Lastly we had 1st Sgt Willie Medley (Beirut Veteran) and 4 of his JROTC Marine Cadets from Mount Vernon High School.
The weekend started at 5pm and never seemed to slow down. We had things planned the entire time. We started out Friday night walking from the hotel to 8th and I, Marine Barracks Washington for the evening
sunset parade, stopping at the Hawk and Dove for dinner. What appeared as a looming rainstorm gathered full force and started raining at the be- ginning of the evening parade and didn’t let up until about 10 min. be- fore the end of the parade. The show went on as planned. Everyone made it back to the hotel soaked but en- joyed the night out.
The next morning we walked to the US Capitol for a reserved tour of the place. Packed but orderly, we managed to make our way thru the halls of the US Capitol. Afterwards we all went to the Air and Space and at 1 p.m. went to Arlington National Cemetery to visit Section 59 where Beirut KIAs are buried. We placed Marine Corps and Navy flags by their headstones and paid our re- spects and then went to the Tomb of the Unknown and the JFK flame. Following our trip to Arlington we had dinner at a fancy restaurant in China Town.
Sunday featured a trip to the Quantico Museum of the Marine Corps, followed by a stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA.
Thanks to Ceasar Valdez who got thru security early enough and saved us front row seats at the PBS Con- cert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol while the Wards took an eve- ning bus tour of Washington, stop- ping at all the national monuments.
We later reconvened at the hotel lobby cocktail lounge area and that’s when Randy Ward’s jaw dropped onto the table when he spot- ted a gentlemen sitting at the next table over from us wearing a Con- gressional Medal of Honor. We fi- nally found the right time and made conversation with him. Hershel “Woody” Williams received his CMH from his service from the bat- tle of Iwo Jima!! Coins were ex- changed!
Monday finally arrived and after 3 days of on-the-go walking we were ready for more. Braving the 94 degrees in the shade, we made it down to the parade staging area where we assembled and waited for our cue to begin the parade. Thanks to Randy and Julie Ward, who do- nated the embroidered service and USA flags, we had our first ever BVA Joint-Service Color guard (including Les Kameck’s Lebanon flag), complete with armed sentries posted on either end from the JROTC Marine Cadets. The crowd gave us a standing ovation as we turned the corner onto Constitution Avenue as the master of ceremonies read our script, the Joint Chiefs of Staff standing to salute our color guard as we went by. We made it ... the entire 12 blocks with no heat ex- haustion and listening to the ap- plause the entire parade route. We are already planning for next year... will you be included?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments on the Beirut Vets Blog. We appreciate your concern and comments.