Columbus AFB, city host parade, ceremony to celebrate veterans

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gross
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Organizations from Lowndes County, the city of Columbus and Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, participated in a parade down Main Street and attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Lowndes County Courthouse in Columbus Nov. 10 to honor America’s veterans past and present.

Marching formations from 14th Flying Training Wing and Columbus AFB Honor Guard led the parade and also participating from Columbus AFB were a firetruck from the 14th Civil Engineer Squadron, the 43rd Flying Training Squadron’s ‘Bama Bird,’ and riders from Columbus AFB’s Chapter of the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club.

A marching formation of more than 30 Airmen representing every group within the 14th FTW was led by Col. Gary Hayward, 14th Mission Support Group commander.

A wreath laying ceremony followed the parade at the courthouse. Again, representatives from the county, city and base came together to honor America’s veterans.

William Quick, American Legion District 4 vice commander, and organizer for the parade and ceremony, said it was good to see the community come together and support America’s veterans.

“They are not alone, they leave their home and they travel all over the country,” Quick said. “There’s people in the community to basically back them and help them out while they’re doing this.”

The ceremony began with the presentation of colors from West Lowndes High School Air Force Junior ROTC Honor Guard and patrolmen Raymond Hackler and Darnell Madison from the Columbus Police Department, sang the national anthem.

A wreath was also laid at the Lowndes County Courthouse Veterans Memorial. Laying the wreath and representing Columbus AFB was Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th FTW commander, and representing veterans in the local area was former Private 1st Class Brad Freeman of Caledonia. They were also accompanied by Harry Sanders, Lowndes County Supervisor for District 1 and president of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors, who represented all Lowndes County residents; and Bill Gavin, vice mayor of the City of Columbus, who represented all Columbus residents.

Freeman, a former member of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 101st Airborne Division, was one of the Soldiers who parachuted in behind enemy lines before the D-Day invasion during World War II. His company is the one portrayed in the TV series, “Band of Brothers.”

Freeman said he was a part of a “real good outfit,” during his time in the Army and likes honoring those who have served.

The ceremony was wrapped up with a moment of silence followed by a T-1A Jayhawk formation flyover from the 48th Flying Training Squadron.

Reflecting on the day’s events, Quick said it was good to see how times have changed since his time in the Marine Corps. Quick was served in the Marine Corps from 1967-1971 and was in Vietnam from 1970-1971.

“When we came back it was a different time and a different war,” Quick said. “When we came back it wasn’t like this, I’m glad today we can support our troops.”