by Senior Airman John Hillier
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing were recognized for their service during a Veterans Day parade in Barling, Ark., Nov. 3, 2012. The 188th also provided a two-ship flyover with its A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs." (National Guard photo by Airman Cody Martin, 188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res
11/13/2012 - BARLING, Ark. -- Hundreds of people lined the streets of the Fort Chaffee historical district to show their support for veterans, and welcome home area military members from a recent deployment to Afghanistan.
The hour-long parade had more than 75 entrants, consisting of floats featuring local veterans, antique cars, motorcycles, fire and police vehicles as well as area community groups. It kicked off with a flyover by two A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" from the 188th Fighter Wing's Flying Razorbacks. The Fort Smith Northside High School marching band pleased the crowd with patriotic music, while local motorcycle enthusiasts filled the air with the sound of thundering engines.
After the parade, there was a free cookout and an information fair for military families. Students from multiple Fort Smith elementary schools, including Christ the King and Sutton Elementary, had choirs present. The choirs performed for the service members and veterans.
"To see this much community support is just fabulous," said Col. Mark Anderson, commander of the 188th Fighter Wing. "It means a lot to our Airmen just coming back from Afghanistan and other areas overseas. The state of Arkansas has always shown a great appreciation for its veterans and the Fort Smith community's support has been more than anything we could have expected."
The turnout was more than many organizers anticipated.
"We're very excited about the turnout today," said Stephanie Malone of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, which organized the parade in coordination with the Marine Corps League and the Sebastian County Veterans' Coalition. "We were originally hoping for at least 20 entries and we ended up with more than 75. We didn't want to turn anyone away, since it's Veterans' Day and we want to recognize all those who have served."
Malone said the first annual event brought a diverse group together to celebrate the service of our local veterans.
"We had lots of floats, which was exciting," Malone said. "We had groups from all over the local area and Oklahoma, too. We even had a group of Vietnamese veterans with us as well. It was a great event, and gave the public a chance to come out and support the military, which is what we wanted."
Source (including 6 photos)
On their official Facebook page, 188th Fighter Wing released the following additional photo:
Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing were recognized for their service during a Veterans Day parade in Barling, Ark., Nov. 3, 2012. The 188th also provided a two-ship flyover with its A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthogs." (National Guard photo by Airman Cody Martin, 188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)