Veteran’s Day Parade to feature antique military vehicles

Published 10:49 pm Saturday, November 3, 2007

Saturday’s Veteran’s Day parade will include a procession of antique military vehicles with war veterans on board them for a ride.

The vehicles will be provided by local collectors who rebuild the classic vehicles. Vehicles planned to roll in the parade include an M3 half-track, a 1941 Willys Jeep and a Dodge Power Wagon M37.

John Griffin said he will be driving his M3 half-track and ask a reliable friend to drive his Jeep. If he can secure another driver, he said he will have a third vehicle, a 1944 Dodge command car, in the parade.

Bill Beacht will have one 1951 Dodge Power Wagon M37 pickup in the parade that he is restoring. He plans to recruit six World War II veterans to ride along In the back.

“I didn’t realize that in Picayune we had so many World War II veterans still alive,” Beacht said.

Riding shotgun in the truck will be his mother-in-law who worked in an Idaho factory during the war producing military aircraft. During the war women worked jobs previously filled by men before the war effort. Those women were called “Rosie the Riveter”, Beacht said.

Beacht and about nine other Pearl River County residents belong to a club called the Mississippi Coast Watchers who collect and restore antique military vehicles, he said.

Chief Mark Thorman said some individuals from the Gulf Coast will bring their vehicles to the parade. The vehicles should range from the World War II era to possibly the Vietnam War.

Thorman asks that spectators at the parade honor tradition and stand at attention while holding their right hand over their heart as American flag passes by in the parade. The American flag will be escorted by a color guard of about 10 people.

Last year’s Veteran’s Day parade was not heavily attended, and while Thorman would like to see that change this year, the parade will roll no matter the turnout.

“We’re not there to be seen; we’re there to honor those veterans,” Thorman said.

Audience participation is welcome in the parade and can extend further than just standing on the side of the road.

“I don’t care who you are, you can march in the parade with us,” Thorman said. “It’s all about all of us getting together.”

The parade is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. this coming Saturday. The parade will begin at Goodyear Boulevard, turn onto Main Street, then onto West Canal Street as it heads back to Goodyear Boulevard.