Welcome Home Parade to honor military veterans

Lloyd Brooks said he was as anxious as a child on Christmas Eve presiding over a committee that organized a Veterans Day parade scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, the likes of which had not been seen in Williamsport or Lycoming County in a decade.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Brooks felt honored to preside over the 2013 Lycoming County Inaugural Veterans Day Parade, which is to begin at Campbell and West Fourth streets and roll east down West Fourth Street, ending at Market Street.

The parade is taking place to honor deceased veterans and to welcome back veterans who faithfully served the country here and abroad, he said.

It’s a joint effort of the county veterans organizations and the committee, and Brooks is among those most anticipating the appearance of World War II veterans, who are to be honorably pulled in carriages by draft horses.

Other participants include veterans from wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. George W. Heiges Jr., retired Air Force and director of Veterans Affairs for Lycoming County, will serve as grand marshal.

A chance to honor

real heroes

By their attendance, Brooks said all ages will have the opportunity to tip their hats, and cheer on members of the greatest generation and other veterans.

“It feels good,” Brooks said, as a year of planning culminated in the final stage before the big day.

Donald L. Koons, 92, of 1818 Homewood Ave., Loyalsock Township, said he also is eager to see a good parade and a good showing.

“I am hoping for a real good parade,” said Koons, who was in the Air Force during World War II.

Koons is among the 30 committee members who met with Brooks throughout the year getting set for the parade.

“I’m here by the grace of God,” said Koons, a ball turret gunner who left the airfields in England for raids over Germany and Axis-controlled territories.

For Brooks, who said he returned from Southeast Asia to a less than friendly greeting, the parade, may serve as way to erase painful memories of the war for that era of veterans.

“We weren’t received very well came back from Vietnam,” he said. Brooks said he hopes people will be in attendance and not forget, as veterans will pass out flags and brochures to spectators.

“I’d be happy with 500 people,” he said. “We put a lot of work into this,” he said, noting committee members knocked on doors, made calls and got assistance on coordination from the veterans’ organizations.

Each of the veterans’ groups will be on floats and there are expected to be a number of musical performances from area high school bands and a performance by the Repaz Band.

“It all came together,” Brooks said. “I’m really surprised and feel honored about being put in as president.”

Among those planning to participate in the parade are the 28th Division of the Army National Guard Band, the state’s oldest music performance group; the Pennsylvania Mounted State Police and several local high school bands, he said.

A 21-gun salute in front of City Hall will be accompanied by the playing of Taps.

Ken Sawyer, radio personality, will be master of ceremonies.

The Disabled Veterans group will have its own float, and the float in the parade that is judged to be the most patriotic will be presented with $1,000 to be turned over to the Wounded Warrior Project, he said.