Gillette residents of all ages braved the cold and the snow today to show their support for past and present military at the downtown Veteran’s Day Parade. Some marched steadily holding flags, some rode in decorated floats and other vehicles, while others lined the curbs along 2nd Street, fervently cheering and waving flags of all sizes.
Some, like Leo and Marci Kelhi, began supporting veterans earlier in the day by placing flags on the graves at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery and also attending the Memorial Ceremony at Lasting Legacy Memorial Park.
“It’s all because of our country. We love it. We serve it. And I would rather be here than any place else,” said Leo, who served in the Army from 1964 to 1966 as part of the U.S. 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed in West Germany on the Czechoslovakian border.
Leo went into the Army right out of high school and said it was something to do at the time, and he got to support his country. Most of his family were in the military.
“My dad flew B25s during WWII. My grandad was on a transport ship during WWI. My uncle was in the Army, and brothers in the Marine Corp and Air Force,” he said, adding that he also has a granddaughter currently serving in the Navy, and another one who is an Air Force veteran and now going to Gillette College.
Navy veteran Airman Brian Hauschild, whose son was also in the Navy, brought his grandsons, ages 10 and 6, out today to pay their respects. His story begins when he enlisted in 1972, went to boot camp in San Diego, then headed overseas to a squadron already stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin on the USS Saratoga.
Hauschild hopes that by bringing his grandsons to events like this that they will grow up knowing the importance of supporting and serving in the military. He laughed when recalling his days in the service, when he was immediately put on mess duty due to his junior-level status on the ship.
On the way back to the ship’s base in Florida in January of 1973, Hauschild said the prompt of a special announcement from the captain came while they were halfway in the middle of the Indian Ocean. What made him and the rest of the crew think they were turning around to go back ended up being “the best news” that a cease fire was being called.
Upon return, Hauschild finished up his secondary training and went to work in the air squadron RVAH1 Reconnaissance Attack Squadron, the heavy squadron. There he worked on the RA-5C Vigilante, which he noted was a bomber converted into a reconnaissance aircraft that could go over Mach one speed or exceed the speed of sound, before being discharged from duty around the end of the Vietnam War.
“Gillette, especially our whole state of Wyoming too, is very veteran proud and veteran aware and very veteran thankful,” Leo noted.