The red Pontiac GTO convertible transporting co-grand-marshals Oscar and Elvia Moreno (obstructed) moves along the route of the sixth annual Veterans Day Parade in Holtville on Nov. 11. | William Roller photos
sixth annual Veterans Day Parade was a solemn as well as joyous occasion
commemorating the veterans and active-duty service personnel who give the
utmost to serve the U.S. with distinction.
It was held downtown on the morning of
Nov. 11, the day the nation remembers all who served in the U.S. military, as
opposed to Memorial Day that honors those killed in service of their country.
Leading off the parade was the Naval Air Facility El Centro color guard followed by the grand marshals, Oscar and Elvia Moreno, who waved to crowds from a fire-engine-red GTO convertible. Oscar is 96 and served during World War II at a base in Palm Springs, despite having vision problems.
“This is a day I will always
remember,” said Oscar. “I was surprised they selected me but I told
them, wherever I go, Elvia goes too. Veterans Day reminds me of all my friends
who are not here, but I never forget them.”
Waiting in line behind a convoy of
classic vehicles in an open car was Miguel Perez, master at arms for the U.S.
Navy Military Police, affiliated with San Clemente Island. Perez is an Imperial
“It’s truly an honor to be here
today … it’s a calling,” he said. “I thank everybody for their
With a front row view at Fifth Street
and Holt Avenue, Holtville residents Joan Jencks and Jane Strahm staked out a
top spot to view the festivities.
“My husband was in the Navy and
served in the Korean War,” said Jenks. “He was a chief petty officer
in charge of the engine room on a tanker. We both come to all the parades and
we’re here today to honor my husband.”
Pedro Salgado, waiting for the parade
kick off, had three older brothers in the military. One, a Vietnam veteran,
passed away a from cancer caused by agent orange a few years ago.
“Out here (Holtville) the parade has turned out pretty good,”
said Salgado. “I had aunts and uncles serve in the military, everybody in
the Valley has. We’d like to see more at the parade. But a lot of them are out
at the cemetery to visit their family but some will catch the tail end of
Student Marching Bands
Delia and her husband, Rafael Juarez,
come to every parade but were there this year to support grandson Jonathan
Juarez Salas who was marching and playing bass drum. Also there for his child
was Jaime Garcia and wife Laura.
“We’re here to see Sophia play
clarinet in the McCabe School band,” Garcia said. “We’ve been to the Carrot
Festival but this is our first (Veterans) parade.”
Jazmin Camacho was also at her first
Veterans Day parade.
“It was amazing, with all the different floats, the way they’re
organized,” she said. “I loved it. We’re here to see my son Arenato
(Luque). He marched as part of the Finley School ASES (after school education
Cameron Luchner arrived from Imperial.
He works as an engineer at Centinela Prison and thought the parade was
“Seeing all the men and women who fought for their country and
knowing how patriotic they are was wonderful,” he said.
Returning from the grand reviewing
stand with family was Kevin Villagomez, an eighth-grade student who plays alto
saxophone for the Holtville Middle School marching band.
“This was my third time in the parade and I thought we sounded
great,” said Kevin. “I think it’s good to appreciate the guys we lost
(in wars) today.”
Prior to the parade, the American
Legion Auxiliary Unit 138 served a full breakfast to veterans. Arthur Juarez
Cornejo is a Vietnam veteran who served in Pleiku in 1969-70.
“I appreciate being able to honor
the people who served before us,” he said. “Today we’re going to the
Evergreen Cemetery to honor our own dead. Then we’ll go to the ceremony at
Bucklin Park (El Centro).”
Raymond Hernandez, wearing a T-shirt
saying, “Army Strong,” is a veteran from 1969 who was stationed in Baltimore
and then at Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex.
“The vets put their life on the line for freedom,” he said.
“And some of us today remember the family we lost. I lost a nephew in
Many of the visitors remained at Holt
Park after the parade to browse through the vendor stalls and listen to the blues
rock of the band Misery Whistle. Relaxing in a camp chair was World War II
veteran Jesus Sandoval, who is 96. He was a member of the military police,
stationed in Okinawa in 1944-45. His granddaughter, Ana Ramirez, explained the
family is very proud of him.
“I had to be here today. My
husband, Manuel, served in Iraq four years,” she said. “We do a
family reunion every year and Jesus always explains what he did in
Celinda, Rosa Maria and Ana Sandoval, Jesus’ children, were also at the
“The parade was wonderful. I
enjoyed it,” said Celinda. “My father, he remembers everything. He
loves to dance and can sing in Japanese.”
Karen Gibbs, Auxiliary Unit 138
president, noted the parade was important to show the veterans they have the
were so glad to get our float at the last minute,” she said. “Thanks
to C.J. Johnston, our driver, and his father, Mark, for loaning us his trailer
and putting our banners together.”