HAV Announces the Grand Marshals for the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

News Release

For Immediate Release

For further information, contact: Paula Pedene, 480-772-2934, paula@pedene.com


Honoring America’s Veterans invites you to a News Conference to introduce the Grand Marshals for the 27th annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

  • What: News Conference to announce the Grand Marshals of the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade
  • Time: 11 a.m.
  • Date: October 11, 2023
  • Place: Arizona State Capitol, Rose Garden in front of the Carl Hayden Memorial, 1700 West Washington, Phoenix, Arizona


Seven Veteran Grand Marshals and Celebrity Grand Marshal Supermodel Kim Alexis will be available to speak to the media about their military service and support of veterans. Each will ride in the upcoming Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 11, 2023.

Honoring America’s Veterans, the nonprofit that presents the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, is pleased to announce the Grand Marshals for 2023. They are:

  • World War II, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay, Window Rock, AZ. Begay served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII, attaining the rank of Corporal. He was selected as one of the 33 Navajo Code Talkers to be assigned to the renowned 5th Marine Division Signal Company and in the Radio Section of the H & S Company, 27th Corporal Begay is a Survivor of the Battle of Iwo Jima assigned to the 5th Marine Division. The Navajo Code Talkers developed and used a secret coded Navajo language for radio communication in the Marine Corps battle campaign. After his military service, Begay worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, retiring after 40 years of federal service. He now enjoys speaking about the Navajo Code Talkers.
  • Korean War, U.S. Navy veteran Jerry Hecht, Sun Lakes, AZ. LT(jg) Gerald “Jerry” Hecht entered the United States Navy shortly after graduating from the University of Cincinnati Pharmacy College in May 1952. While in the Navy, he completed three deployments to the western Pacific, at times operating off the coast of the Korean Peninsula at the height of the Korean War. On one occasion, his ship took fire from the Communist forces of North Korea. Hecht returned to his hometown of Cincinnati, where he spent the next 50 years serving his community as a Pharmacist. Hecht and his wife Beverly have been married for 70 years. Two of their eight children are veterans, Robert Hecht, Lt. Col. United States Air Force (Retired), and CAPT Richard Hecht, United States Navy, active duty.
  • Vietnam War, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Col. Herbert Pierpan, Scottsdale, AZ. Pierpan was activated to the Republic of Vietnam twice, in 1963 as an Advisor to the Vietnamese Marines and then again in 1968 as a Company Commander in the First Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division. After serving in Vietnam, he remained in the Corps, earning the rank of Colonel. His notable assignments include serving as Commanding Officer at several locations and culminating his career as the Special Assistant and Marine Corps Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable James H Webb, Jr. After military service, he worked for a defense contractor in Fairfax, Virginia, retired and moved to Arizona where he enjoys working with the Boy Scouts.
  • Cold War, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Hughes Byrne, Casa Grande, AZ. Byrne completed Air Crew training and was awarded Naval aviation flight wings with HMM 264. While stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, he went on two WestPac cruises with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Team Pacific area. One of his humanitarian achievements was helping deliver aid to the leprosy colony on Molokai Island. After leaving active duty, he later joined the Army National Guard, where he was immediately deployed to Bosnia for 14 months with the 34th Infantry Division, supporting the 86th Medical Company. He was then deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the C/3-126th AA company and performed the duties as a UH-60 Crew Chief for a medivac company. After retirement, he became a stellar leader with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and in June 2023, was awarded the Gil La Montoya award for efforts that go above and beyond the call of duty. He also coordinates the Casa Grande Veterans Day Parade.
  • Desert Storm/Persian Gulf War, U.S. Army veteran Patricia Little Upah, Tempe, AZ. Upah is a retired U.S. Army Nurse. She served in the Persian Gulf War with the 403rd Combat U.S. Army Support Hospital (USAH) in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm in 1991. She then served with the Army Reserves, becoming the Commander of the 6253rd USAH before retiring from the reserves in 2004 at the rank of Colonel. After military service, she worked as the CEO of Banner Behavioral Health Hospital for ten years. She currently serves as the President of the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society, is a Member of the Friends of Fisher House, the Veterans Family Advisory Committee of the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, and the Board for Veterans First Ltd, an organization dedicated to providing services to Veterans. Upah was also a nurse during the Vietnam War, serving in 1968.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Air Force veteran Jeffrey DeVore, Goodyear, AZ. Jeff DeVore served 25 years in the United States Air Force from 1992 to 2017. He flew C-130 cargo aircraft to all corners of the world with more than 4,400 flight hours and 850 in combat. In April of 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, Jeff flew one of the first aircraft to land at Baghdad International Airport to secure the field for Coalition Forces. His combat missions include supporting the Battle of Fallujah, the Battle of Ramadi, and the Battle of Basra. DeVore flew combat missions in Afghanistan supporting the Battle of Shewan and the Northern counterinsurgency. He also flew multiple combat airdrops under enemy fire in Iraq and Afghanistan to insert Coalition Special Forces and equipment into austere areas to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. After retiring as Colonel, DeVore now works at Amazon, supporting the Amazon Warriors program for veterans.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. Army veteran Amanda Tallman, Peoria, AZ. Tallman joined the Army Military Police Corps in 2007, serving as an MK19 gunner, which was remarkable because women were banned from combat roles time. Beyond her military duties, she displayed exceptional compassion by coordinating with family members to provide resources to Afghan children during her deployment. After leaving the military, Tallman faced a new challenge by battling cancer, which she won. She joined the Army Reserves and became a Military Intelligence Officer in Arizona. Tallman retired medically in 2018, but her passion for education and service helped her create a nonprofit, First Page, which connects nonprofits and groups that work with veterans, first responders, and kids to horses to promote personal growth and resiliency to enhance existing programs. As the Arizona Strategic Director for Concerned Veterans for America, she advocates for veteran perspectives on policies that impact veterans and the nation.
  • Celebrity Grand Marshal, Supermodel Kim Alexis, Scottsdale, AZ. Kim Alexis is part of an elite group of fashion models who rose to supermodel status in the 1980s. She was discovered at 17 at a Buffalo, NY, modeling agency. After moving to New York City, she had her first cover on Italian Bazaar in just four days. Although she walked the runway and shot fashion editorials, Alexis quickly became known for her beauty. She had over 500 worldwide magazine covers, including Vogue, Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan, and set the record for Glamour. In 1983, Kim Alexis became the face of Revlon’s Ultima II, becoming one of the most recognizable faces in America. She rounded out her supermodel status by being in six Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues. Then she transitioned into broadcasting as a fashion correspondent for Good Morning America and hosted numerous TV shows. As Celebrity Grand Marshal for the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, she hopes to encourage veterans to be their best in all areas of life, understanding that true beauty and health come from within.

The “Honor Our Heroes” program received nearly 60 community submissions to vie for the title of Veterans Grand Marshal in this year’s parade with the theme Never Forget, Forever Honor.

Now in its 27th year, the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade will include a special tribute to a group of veterans who support the Military Working Dogs. The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade occurs at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 11. The parade heads south on Central and Montebello, crosses west on Camelback, and heads south on 7th Street, where it destages at Indian School Road.

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