George Poppe to lead Phoenix Veterans Day Parade as Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran Grand Marshal

Each year, the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade chooses amongst the 511,000 veterans in Maricopa County to have the honor of serving as Veterans Grand Marshals in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. This year, the seven chosen veterans are inspirations to us all. We are honored to highlight each of their military and personal achievements.

George Poppe Grand Marshal

In the course of his distinguished career, Poppe was deployed seven time, including three deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  He served as first sergeant, acting as principal advisor to six commanding officers and more than 1,000 personnel. He led his weapons technicians to a 100% aircraft weapons release rate that directly supported American troops under fire. He also worked to support the mental and emotional well-being of his troops.

“He always brought encouragement when we needed it most,” recalls nominator John Speikermeier, “ he was able to show me that there are many ways to inspire and lead those whom we served with.  From his rousing speeches to exceedingly positive attitude, even when times were difficult….”

After his retirement, Poppe continued to serve our men and women in uniform, helping to deploy pararescue men and women of the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ.

Poppe’s life of service extends beyond the Air Force and his comrades in arms. Two years ago, a car accident fractured his brother’s family, leaving his nephew orphaned and alone. As he had done so many times before in his career in the military, Poppe stepped in and assumed the role of father to his nephew and has raised him as his own these last two years, instilling the values and skills he shared with so many before as an enlisted airman.

“Poppe is the embodiment of the U.S. Air Force core values,” said Spiekermeier. “His integrity is unapparelled.  His service to others could never be stopped.  And he is truly excellent in all he does.”

We are humbled by Poppe’s service to the Air Force, to our country, and to his family and are pleased to name him this year’s Operation Enduring Freedom Grand Marshal for the 2022 Phoenix Veteran’s Day Parade, November 11th at 11 a.m. 

Read the stories of all our veteran Grand Marshals here in our continuing blog series. You will also see them serve as Grand Marshals in the Veterans Day Parade in Phoenix on November 11th at 11 a.m. For more details about the marshals and the parade, go to