VIRGINIA CITY - Hundreds gathered to salute heroes and war veterans as they marched Thursday through Virginia City in Nevada's oldest Veterans Day parade.
Gunners occaisionally fired a blank round from the guns and cannons mounted on the jeeps and all-terrain vehicles sporting American flags that led the parade.
Two F/A-18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Fallon blasted overhead at 11:11 a.m. to kick things off.
Kathy Van Nostrand, who lives along the parade route, sat on her porch with her dog watching the action.
"My father was a career Marine, so the parade reminds me of the times he was gone and how much I used to miss him," she said, wearing a big top hat covered with American flags. "We all feel the after-effects of war."
Van Nostrand said military life took her all over the country, so she knows what people in the military endure.
Vietnam Veteran Tom Baker, an aide to Sen. Richard Bryan, praised the townspeople for keeping the Veterans Day tradition alive.
"Virginia City has really carried the torch for veterans for years," he said. "Literally hundreds of people come out because they realize the importance of veterans."
Baker is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Inc., Carson City chapter 388. Several of the members were on hand Thursday, making their way through the crowd, talking with old friends.
"Most of us were not well-received when we came back," said Lewis Rosenberg, vice president of the group. "It's always good to see this."
Everyone from Junior ROTC members to World War II veterans were among the 250 participants. Reservists play a large role in making sure the old machines keep running.
Bill Smith, a retired Army National Guardsman, spent 32 years doing what he now does for free.
Retired from the 150th maintenance company, he keeps several of the old jeeps and all-terrain vehicles in prime running condition.
"I guess it's the loyalty that brings us all here," he said. He keeps the vehicles in storage when they are not out at events.
Richard Wroblewski, a recent winner of the Navy Marine Corps Medal for his service during the World War II, said Virginia City's parade deserves accolades for sticking around when Reno's could no longer afford to operate.
"Reno tried it for a couple of years, but couldn't keep paying for it," he said. "So I'll keep coming to Virginia City as long as I can."
Wroblewski, who hails from Fallon, was awarded his medal on Labor Day of this year, more than 50 years after he helped pull nine injured men out of a Navy patrol boat. He retired as a senior chief construction mechanic.
Navy veteran Bill Henderson said soldiers are getting some much due recognition after a lull that followed the Vietnam War.
"More and more people are interested in it over the past ten years," he said. "Most vets don't want to talk about combat because it brings back memories. It's never fun to have to kill people, but it is something that our generation had to do."
In Carson City on Wednesday night, Retired Brigadier General Karen S. Rankin spoke to more than 50 members of The Retired Officers Association in a meeting at the Ormsby House.
Rankin was director of plans and programs, Air Force Education and Training Command, headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
She told the gathering that there needed to be a change in the membership of the retiring military people. She said the age gap is growing.
She also emphasized that there remains numerous issues which need to be taken up in Washington D.C. Military organizations must push for medical and retirement benefits.
In other news, the chimes recently installed in the Laxalt Building rang out the tunes from the Marine, Air Force, Navy and Army.
"Off we go, into the wild blue yonder ..." was being hummed by many people as the bells played out.