2019 Phoenix Veteran’s Day Parade event


2019 Honorees

Robert AshbyLt. Col. Robert “Bob” Ashby (ret.)
Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army
World War II Veteran Grand Marshal

Robert Ashby, a Tuskegee airman and first black captain for Frontier Airlines was born July 17, 1926, in Yemassee, S.C. After his father passed away, Bob and his mother Lillian Ashby, moved to Jersey City, N.J., along with his brother, James, and sister, Elizabeth.

As a student in high school, Ashby began to investigate pilot training after hearing of the experiences of black pilots in the 99th. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age seventeen as a candidate for the Aviation Cadet program. He was called to active duty in August 1944 after graduating from Ferris High School in Jersey City, N.J. Later, he received college training with the University of Maryland and U.C.L.A through the ‘on-base’ College Program. Ashby was assigned to Keesler Field, Mississippi for basic training and testing for entry into the Aviation Cadet program. In December 1944 Ashby was sent to Tuskegee, Alabama to begin cadet raining.

As a cadet, he flew the Stearman PT-17, AT-6, and the B-25. Ashby graduated as a second lieutenant with the Tuskegee Class of 45-H on November 20, 1945. Ashby was assigned to Japan as a part of the U.S. occupying force. On his arrival in Japan, Ashby found he was assigned to two white flying outfits, neither of which would accept him in their unit because he was black and the Army was segregated at the time.

Second Lieutenant Ashby was removed from pilot status and assigned to a black company in the Quartermaster Department in Tokyo, Japan. In May 1949, Ashby was assigned to the black unit at Lockbourne Air Field, Ohio where he was reinstated to flying status. President Harry S. Truman integrated the armed forces, and Ashby was assigned to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in August 1949 for a short tour. Later, he was assigned to a Reserve Troop Carrier Wing at Cleveland Municipal Airport. Here he trained in the T-6 and C-46 aircraft. In 1952, Ashby flew B-26’s for a year of combat in Korea while stationed at K-8. In 1956, in England, Ashby flew the T-33, B-45 and B-66. He trained in the B-47 aircraft and became a B-47 instructor. Reaching the status of Lieutenant Colonel, Robert Ashby retired honorably from the U.S. Air Force in July 1965, after 21 years of fighting racial problems as well as the enemies of America.

Robert “Bob” Ashby started his commercial aviation career in 1965 with United Airlines as one of their flight operations instructors. He taught in the classroom the airplane simulator for the 727 aircraft. In 1968, Ashby helped to write the training program for the 747 aircraft. His group wrote the curriculum, formulated the objectives, wrote the manuals, and instructed the crews in the classroom subjects, simulator and aircraft skills.

In 1973, Ashby was employed by Frontier Airlines as a pilot, flying as a second officer, first officer, and then as a captain. He was the first black pilot hired by Frontier Airlines. He flew various aircraft with Frontier, including the Tin Otter, Convair 580, Boeing 737, and MD-80.

Robert Ashby holds an outstanding record of precision, quality, courtesy, and safety with Frontier Airlines with over 20,000 flying hours. He is the first black pilot to reach mandatory retirement age (60 years) with a major airline. Robert Ashby retired on July 17, 1986, while flying as Captain of the Boeing 737.

William LeasureCaptain William “Bill” Leasure – Air Force
Captain, US Air Force
Korean War Veteran Grand Marshal

Captain William “Bill” Leasure served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He joined in June 1954 and served five years as an Armament System Officer.

During his time in the Air Force, Captain Leasure served in Colorado where he was involved in testing the F111, one of the newest and most technological advanced aircraft of its time. He was a member of a team of brave pilots and crewmen who worked on the many bugs associated with F-111 until it was deemed “fit to fly.”

During Captain Leasure’s time in service, he served alongside numerous proud and dedicated patriots and is proud of his time in service. Captain Leasure believes that the training he and his comrades received was the best in the world and attributes his training and experience in the Air Force for many of the successes he has had over his lifetime.

Captain Leasure and his late wife Mary Ann are the proud parents of William Jr, Paul, Mary Louise, and Caroline.

Captain Leasure is extremely humbled by his selection as a Korean War Veteran Grand Marshall and is proud to represent his fellow Korean War veterans. He recognizes the importance of Veteran’s Day and what this day means to the brave men and women who have served in the United States military.

Bill TafoyaStaff Sergeant William “Bill” Tafoya – Army
Specialist 5 U.S. Army
Vietnam War, Veteran Grand Marshal

Bill Tafoya is an Arizona native, born in Winslow, and his family moved to Tempe when he was 12. He volunteered to join the U.S. Army when he was 17 years old. Following training, he was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the 1st Battalion, 47th Infantry, where he was assigned to Ski Patrol. After a short period of time, he was shipped to Hawaii for tropical training and then joined the 25th Infantry Division.

The 25th was assigned to Cu Chi, a dense jungle portion of Vietnam, that was thick with Viet Cong. As a high school student, he was disappointed he was not large enough to be accepted to the football team. He found in Vietnam, due to his smaller size, the 25th had just the right job that he qualified for, and this was as a “Tunnel Rat.” The Viet Cong had extensive and elaborate tunnels in Vietnam. It took just the right volunteer to enter these tunnels, mostly crawling on their stomach in such a tiny space, with a flashlight in one hand, and a weapon in the other, to root out the enemy.

Spending two years in Vietnam with the 25th, Tafoya was awarded many decorations, medals, badges, and commendations. Among these awards are the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Rifle, three Purple Hearts, and the Bronze Star. Bill was awarded the Bronze Star for rendering aid to his squad after entering a minefield. Afterward, he stepped onto a tripwire–but reinforcements were able to extract him before it blew.

Bill Tafoya returned to Arizona and received further education while working full-time and raising a family. He worked a variety of jobs, including construction, at the Wigwam Resort, APS, and he retired from manufacturing. He is married to Erin, with three sons, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Tafoya is a member of the following Veteran Service Organizations: The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans. He was exposed to Agent Orange, as were so many that fought in Vietnam.

He is very proud of his military service, the strong bonds that are only formed in a combat situation. Tafoya refers to them as “my brothers,” and he will never forget those that gave their lives to defend our freedoms. In recent years, he was able to reconnect with three veterans he served with, and they met for three years in a row during July in Iowa and Nebraska.

Bill Tafoya has passed on his values of love and dedication to Country and his community to his children. He is grateful that his son Eric nominated him for this great honor, to serve as Veteran Grand Marshal, representing the Veterans of the Vietnam War. He is proud to stand alongside his fellow Grand Marshals and be in the parade among so many Veterans.

Robert YanezMaster Sergeant Norbert “Dave” Yanez – Air Force
Master Sergeant U.S. Air Force 1958-1981

Dave Yanez Jr. was born and raised in Globe, Arizona. As one of 18 members of his family to serve in the United States military, it was an easy decision when his friend suggested they join the U.S. Air Force.

His service spanned 23 years, rising to the rank of Master Sergeant. His military career began during the Cold War and included service in England, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ during the Cuba Missile Crisis, Southeast Asia, (Vietnam and Thailand) and Panama. His many military occupations include a wide variety of skills. Dave started as an Air Policeman, during that time he was a military police dog handler for four years, an Air Force drill instructor, then cross-trained into the education and training career field. He was the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the curriculum section of the Inter-American Air Force Academy in Panama.

Yanez’s many awards and decorations include; Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation with four Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal with one Silver Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Longevity Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Small Arms Expert Ribbon, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal with four Campaign Stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

After this military service, Yanez went to work for the City of Glendale as a Code Enforcement Officer for more than 20 years enforcing City Codes and maintaining the ambiance of the city.

His retirement has just been another chapter in his life, moving from paid employment to full-time community volunteer with continued service to his community, state, and nation. He has worked to assist veterans in learning what benefits and services are available to them. His list of community service awards is many and varied and include; Luke AFB 2008 Retired Military Volunteer of the Year – 58th Fighter Wing. City of Glendale Police Department 2015 Volunteer of the Year, and Arizona Black Law Enforcement Employees Volunteer of the Year 2016.

Dave Yanez is 80 years young and continues to donate his time and talents to; American Red Cross (Luke AFB, 56th Medical Group), Glendale Police Department, Volunteer In Police Services, (VIPS), DUET of Arizona (volunteers helping assist seniors in their daily life needs), and was the coordinator for Luna/Stalls Memorial, raising $280,000 over a 10 year span,(benefitting, Phoenix Children’s Hospital).

He and his wife Evangelina have just celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. They have three children and four grandchildren. Dave’s legacy of service has been passed on through them. The example he set has produced future generations of college graduates, military men, educators, law enforcement, and public service members on many levels.

Robert SimsPrivate First Class Robert Sims – USMC
Private First Class, US Marine Corp
Desert Storm Veteran Grand Marshal

“It’s a humbling experience. A lot of people did what we did. Some got hurt, some didn’t make it back.”

Robert “Bobby” Sims was “a small kid from Mammoth, Arizona” when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 18 years old. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 11th Marine, 1st Marine Division, and served aboard USS Germantown, USS Frederick, and USS Belleau Wood.

He vividly recalled a morning in February of 1991, he stepped off the flight deck, and into a rare sight on the mess decks: steak and eggs for breakfast!? Immediately, he knew something big was about to happen. With Scud missiles flying overhead, he realized, “We’re in it now!”

Sims didn’t talk much about his time on the battlefield, but according to the unit’s website, the 1st MarDiv “destroyed the enemy in its path as it led the breakthrough to Kuwait City.” Sims earned a Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Mast, and other decorations.

Sims said being in the military “taught him how to be a person.” Two people who inspired him were his uncles Frank, and Richard who served in “The Corps” during Vietnam. He said they didn’t talk about it, but there was “something special about the way they carried themselves. They always helped others out.”

Chris Romero, a corrections officer and longtime friend who nominated Sims said these characteristics define Bobby. “He made up his mind to help the ones who couldn’t help themselves even after he fulfilled his military duties.”

Sim’s love for his fellow citizen and his Corps are evident. Each year, he takes the whole week off to celebrate the USMC birthday on November 10th and feels proud when his family & friends call him to say they’ve contributed gifts to the annual “Marine Toys for Tots” drive.

Sims said through his time in the Marines, he “gained more respect for people. One never knows where someone else came from or what they’ve dealt with.” These are lessons he has carried into his role as a Sergeant in the Gila River Police Department. “I tell the rookies they’ll go through some stuff, and they need to talk through it, and try not to take it home.”

Whether it’s his fellow officers or fellow veterans, Sims stressed that it’s critical to talk through difficult times and that getting help shouldn’t come with a stigma, but should be viewed as a sign of strength. “I want them to know we’re here for them.”

Romero has witnessed this first-hand. “He always encourages others, never talks down in any way. He’s always willing to help out.”

Chris OshanPetty Officer First Class Christopher Oshana – Navy
Boatswain Mate, First Class Petty Officer, U.S. Navy
Operation Restore Hope

Christopher “Boats” Oshana was born in Bristol, Connecticut and raised in the picturesque town of Barnet in Vermont. At age 14 he was fascinated by the Seabees depicted in his father’s World War II Time-Life books and instantly knew that military life on the sea was for him. Upon high school graduation in 1984, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, which provided him with an opportunity to travel the world while protecting our Nation in peace and wartime. Indeed, Officer Oshana has traveled to 20 different countries and 23 states in his 20-year Naval career.

After graduating from Basic Training at the Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, he reported for his first duty aboard the USS Sylvania. He later transferred to the Fleet Combat Training Center in Virginia where he became a military working dog handler, sniffing out bombs and other threats.
Oshana then became a boatswain (hence his nickname, “Boats”) and served on the USS El Paso, followed by deployment to the Mediterranean Sea during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

When deployed for Operation Restore Hope in December 1992, “Boats” acted at a Causeway Barge Ferry Pilot to support the multi-national humanitarian aid effort in Somalia, by carrying the necessary equipment, fuel, vehicles and combat cargo for the Marine Expeditionary Force on the ground.
Other duty stations included the USS Puget Sound, the USS Tortuga, the Amphibious Construction Battalion Two and lastly, the Navy Recruiting District in Phoenix.

After 20 years of dedicated service, Oshana crossed the quarterdeck for the last time, retiring from Naval service in 2004 with the rank of Boatswain Mate, 1st Class Petty Officer. The recipient of many medals and ribbons, he is particularly proud of earning the Southwest Asia Expeditionary and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medals.

In 2006, Oshana revisited his love of photography and submitted portraits of his twin daughters to a contest, which he won. The photos were published and spurred his passion for photography capturing individuals, corporations and even serves as the portrait photographer for the Phoenix Battalion’s annual training conference. His award-winning artwork has been featured in print and online in many Valley publications such as North Valley Magazine, Phoenix New Times, The Recruiter Journal and LocalRevibe Magazine and exhibited widely.

Phoenix business owner Wayne Rainey offered Oshana workspace and an internship at the monOrchid Gallery in 2013. This opportunity and his involvement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars encouraged him to focus on a pictorial view of the warriors whose wounds are not visible – those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Oshana’s latest project, “PTSD, The Invisible Scar” is a photographic and film documentary about veterans diagnosed with PTSD. It invites the viewers to look beyond the facades and inside the private lives of a few of our country’s veterans who suffer from PTSD. The photographic sessions are often cathartic and healing.

“As a retired Navy veteran and photographer, I can bridge the gap between these worlds, exposing the invisible scars that these brave men and women bare.”

Oshana currently works as a civilian Operations Analyst at the U.S. Army’s Phoenix Recruiting Battalion. He lives in Goodyear, Arizona and enjoys spending time with his family and with his 13-year-old Boxer dog.

Ashley MarshallSergeant Ashley Marshall – Army
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran Grand Marshal

“Ashley is the definition of Army Strong. Even when faced with hardships and the unthinkable, she pushes forward and is still such a kind and loving person.” Nominator, Stephanie Beilman has every right to brag about her daughter. Ashley Marshall said one of her older brothers is probably the reason she enlisted. He was already in the Army, but said, “It’d be too difficult for her. It was game on!” He advised her to “pick an easy Military Occupation Specialty, not anything like Military Police (MP).” So, right out of high school, she went to basic, with plans to become a 31B–yes, MP.

Marshall barely turned 19 when she was sent to Baghdad in 2005. One of the first soldiers she encountered was John Marshall. “We didn’t get along at first. He was the most squared away soldier I ever met, and he saw me as a junior who didn’t know anything.”

However, she proved herself on the battlefield. While on patrol as a turret gunner just outside Camp Taji, Ashley’s HMMWV hit an IED. She was knocked out until they returned to the Forward Operating Base (FOB). In a second close-call, a truck was hit by an RPG. Marshall received the Combat Action Badge, two Army Commendations, and other military decorations.

John and Ashley’s mutual respect turned into something more when they were stationed at Ft. Riley. “By my second tour (his third) to Iraq, we knew we were meant for each other.” Both advanced to Sergeant (E5) by the end of their enlistments. They married, and Ashley enrolled in Arizona State University, where she earned a Bachelors, shortly before their daughter, Riley—named after the base where they served together—was born.

Less than two years later, she finished a Masters in Education, and they welcomed their son Colt. Ashley Marshall laughed, “John got to choose the name. It was good we didn’t have twins, because he wanted to name them Smith and Wesson.”

Then, came hardships. John was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and “he was gone just a short 18 months later. At 29, Ashley found herself a single mother and teacher with two small children.”

Riley is now seven, and Colt is six. Their mom remains grateful for the time she had with her husband, as well as her five years in the Army. “It gave me a family. When John passed away, so many people flew out, including a hard-nosed sergeant. He was the first to arrive, and he stayed the longest to make sure the kids and I were all right.”

Ashley Marshall is now a coordinator for the Veterans Upward Bound at ASU, and a member of VFW, The Mission Continues, Team Red, White and Blue, and Valors on Eighth. Regarding being selected to represent OIF Veterans, she wants to “Honor those who don’t think twice about putting their life up for someone else.”

Her mom Stephanie sees an additional value: “Show all veterans and women that strong is a choice we all have… no matter the circumstance.” Marshal added, “We get a little embarrassed, but lift our chin, puff out her chest & say, that is my story, and I’m pretty [dang] proud of where I am now, and I have the Army to thank for a lot of it.”


2019 Winners

Johnathan Gregus
Grade 12
Williams Field High School
Gilbert, AZ
Teacher: David Vaughn

Every year, Phoenix hosts an annual Veterans Day Parade. Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, began on November 11th, 1919, a year after WWI ended. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance which allowed Veterans Day to become a national holiday beginning in 1938. Since then, we thank our soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and our country. In this essay, I will be explaining how Veterans Day was formed and why we observe it.

World War I ended on November 11th, 1918, with 116,708 American soldiers losing their lives. In 1919, America proudly began honoring its veterans with its first Armistice Day Parade in New York City. In 1954, the Veterans Service Organization urged congress to replace the word Armistice with Veterans due to the additional wars of World War II and the Korean War. Today, Veterans Day is celebrated from small towns to large cities all with the purpose of honoring and showing appreciation to those who have served. It’s a chance for everyone to put aside petty differences and unite for a common cause in order to properly thank our Veterans.

Our service personnel deserve our utmost respect throughout the year and Veterans Day is an opportunity to remind everyone of that fact. Soldiers risk their lives to protect us and our rights so that we don’t have to. They defend our freedoms we enjoy in this country and they have a positive influence on our next generation of service personnel. My neighbor, Mark Billingsley, who was a Navy Pilot would always talk to me about what he did in the military and how his experiences shaped him into who he is today. I asked him what America would be like if we didn’t have a military and he responded with, “We would be speaking German or Japanese. The USA wouldn’t exist without a military, we would just be a conquered nation in the dustbin of conquered nations that no longer exist. From WWII history alone, Germany was close winning had our military not joined the fight in Italy.” The America we all know, and love would not exist without these brave soldiers defending our country.

I personally have been strongly influenced by the Armed Forces since I was very young. Holding these parades has allowed me to witness these brave men and women who have served our country and put their lives on the line for our safety and freedom. Realizing what these soldiers have done for us has influenced me to want to serve my country and I have elected to enlist with the Air Force National Guard. I am excited to dedicate myself to military service in order to sustain our country’s values that have been so honorably preserved by our Veterans. Veterans Day is truly remarkable.

Baylee Clore
Grade 12
Horizon High School
Scottsdale, AZ
Teacher: Yvonne Perot

What is courage? Courage can mean many different things for various people. Courage can mean bravery, doing what’s right, facing your fears, putting others before yourself, learning from your mistakes, and so much more. Our U.S. soldiers and veterans exhibit courage every single day, on and off the battlefield. They risk their lives and devote their time to protect our great country and keep us safe. They don’t just fight for the country and our government but also for us, our families, our rights, and everything else we are so fortunate to have. Americans often take these freedoms for granted because we can’t imagine what life would be like without them, and our soldiers fight every day so that we won’t ever have to see the day where our freedom is taken away from us.

The long-ravaging war in Afghanistan is a current example of this courage our soldiers show every day. Every veteran and soldier are a hero no matter what they did or how many medals they did or didn’t receive. Anyone who is willing to fight for our country is a true American hero. A small fraction of those heroes came from the war in Afghanistan. For example, Cpl. Kyle Carpenter was on a rooftop with Nick Eufrazio at a combat outpost when suddenly the Taliban began shooting. A grenade landed on the roof with the two soldiers, and with almost no thought, Carpenter jumped on the grenade to save his fellow soldier. Carpenter experienced many injuries but was fortunate enough to survive. He says if he could go back, he wouldn’t change a thing.

Another soldier whose bravery shined through was Staff Sgt. Robert Miller. His team was attacked with machine guns, and his captain was wounded. Miller decided to run across an open battleground in front of enemy fire so his team could escape to better positions. He was even shot along the way, but that didn’t stop him. He kept going and killed about a dozen on the enemy side in the process. The rest of his team survived, all thanks to Miller and his compassionate, courageous soul.

It’s hard to imagine sacrificing yourself and giving up your life for others, but many of these soldiers made the decision to put others before themselves. That is what true courage is. Whether it’s helping a friend with homework or saving someone’s life, a form of courage is being selfless and making decisions for the greater good. This idea of courage is why Americans need to continue honoring our heroes and veterans because they are role models to so many people across the nation. Without them, where would we be? Veterans do more for our country and people that most of us will never be able to comprehend, and for that, I am forever grateful for our heroes.

Lauren Kobley
Grade 12
Notre Dame Preparatory High School
Scottsdale, AZ
Teacher: Tracey Heisler

During my sophomore year of high school, my honors English teacher introduced me to Veterans Heritage Project. VHP’s mission is to support veterans in the local community by interviewing them and publishing their stories in books, which are then housed in the Library of Congress. I was instantly drawn to this club because of my love for writing and appreciation for veterans like my great-grandfather and grandfather. Even though I never had the opportunity to speak with either of them about their service to our country, I believe I can honor them by supporting veterans.

I have had the opportunity to participate in work that is meaningful to both veterans and students. By interviewing the veterans, I can help provide a safe outlet for veterans to share however much they feel comfortable and this is often a therapeutic experience for them. Knowing that I could be a part of helping a veteran opened my eyes up to the tremendous sacrifice they make for people they do not even know, a sacrifice that could have ultimately cost them their lives. These interviews showed me how the events I read about in history books affect people just like myself. I learned many lessons from the veterans I have interviewed. For example, a Vietnam veteran once told me, “It’s important to do your own job to the best of your ability, even if it’s not what you wanted. Because we are expecting the best of ourselves, it’s only fair we ask that our peers to do the same.”

Last year, I decided I needed to do more for the veterans I had come to know and love. I started to fundraiser for Honor Flight Arizona, a non- profit organization that pays homage to WWII and Korean War veterans by providing support to enable them to complete a three-day journey of honor and remembrance to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C. By the end of the year, I had raised over $21,000 which helped sponsor flights for 14 veterans to Washington, DC.

I also had the privilege of going on an Honor Flight. It opened my eyes and heart to the monumental sacrifices they have made for our country and its citizens, and it has given me an opportunity to build relationships like the one I would have hoped to share with my grandfather. It has shown me the importance of being dedicated to something you wholeheartedly believe in and taking a leadership role where one is needed. Perhaps most importantly of all, it has taught me that sacrifice – like a smile – is contagious. Never could I have anticipated the number of friends and family who saw my pure joy and asked if they could join me.

Because of all the lessons and life skills I have learned from veterans, I plan on continuing to help them for as long as I possibly can, and even that will be but a fraction of the support and respect they truly deserve.

Isabella Arias
Grade 12
Shadow Ridge High School
Surprise, AZ
Teacher: Maren Wenz

Brave men and women voluntarily sacrifice their lives and join the military in order to protect Americans. They say goodbye to their family, their friends, and their home without knowing if they’ll ever see any of it again. We honor all the men and women who have served or are serving in the military on Veterans Day, but we need to do more to show our appreciation to them and their families. America’s Heroes must be honored every single day, we must recognize that we get to live in a land of the free because of the brave.

The Veterans Day parade is a great way to honor America’s heroes, but you can’t throw a parade every day, instead you should do small acts daily to show your appreciation. Showing our recognition to the Veterans in our local community and thanking them for their service is something that could be done every day. My Tata is a Vietnam Veteran and for Christmas and his birthday we gave him Navy hats that he proudly wears and can show his sacrifice. When we go out, he wears his Veteran hat, and many people will go out of their way to come up to him and shake his hand and thank him for his service It brings great joy to my Tata. My Tata explained to me the backlash that Vietnam Veterans received on their return from war, many people didn’t think the US should go into Vietnam and when the US decided to join there were many protests. During this time, they were drafted, it wasn’t by choice. They enlisted into the service and did their duty as they were sworn to protect and serve. Some Veterans were drafted and other honorable chose to serve in our military.

Each generation has a group of heroes we look up to. Veteran’s from World War II and Vietnam are represented in my family through my Great Grandparents and Grandparents. I honor them, and all Veterans, by being grateful for the freedom that I have because of their sacrifice and paying it forward. Every April I run the Pat Tillman race, to honor Pat Tillman and all Veterans. Pat Tillman gave up his NFL career in order to serve as an Army Ranger after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Tillman Foundation honors soldiers by granting scholarships to future and former military members, by me doing their race every year I am helping contribute to honoring American Heroes. To show our gratitude to Veterans every day, whether it is saying thank you, buying a cup of coffee or a 10% discount on a meal. It is the least we can do to honor our heroes and show our Veteran’s the respect they deserve.