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Veterans Day paradegoers show support, gratitude

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, at 12:01 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, at 12:33 p.m.

World War II veteran Melvin Redburn staked out a seat in front of the Sedgwick County Courthouse on Saturday and waited for the Veterans Day parade to begin.

Redburn, 87, was dressed in the uniform he wore in the 1940s as a member of the Army Signal Corps in the 1940s.

"Of course I can't button the jacket anymore," he said.

He was one of several hundred people who gathered along Main Street early for the Wichita Veterans Day Parade.

The parade kicked off at 11 a.m. with a flyover by two F-16s. Hundreds of soldiers, floats and flag-bearing motorcycles paraded south on Main from Murdock as they made their way to the final staging area at Century II.

Redburn said he served in the Army Signal Corps in the days when radar, still in its infancy, was anything but reliable. He spent most of his time on the tops of hills in Burma, using a radio to spread the word of approaching Japanese airplanes.

He said the parade gives him a chance to see veterans, uniforms and military equipment from different eras.

"I like seeing the veterans," he said. "I'm not going to ride in a trailer, but I am going to sit here and watch."

Across the street, Vietnam veteran Tony White was settled in a lawn chair with his wife, Bridget, and their 2-year-old granddaughter, Grace Hare.

White did two tours of duty in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"Came back both times," he joked.

He said he's a regular at Veterans Day parades.

"I do it to support the troops," he said. "I'll be coming to these when I'm in a wheelchair."

Although there were plenty of veterans in the crowd, there were also people like Hadassah Prosser. She was never in the military, she said, but her natural father was an Air Force sergeant, and her adoptive father was an Army medic.

"I like coming out to show support for our troops," she said. "I highly respect them. I love this parade."

Scott Schaffer, who was attending the parade with his 7-year-old daughter, Hannah, said he, too, came to honor the veterans.

"To thank them for making a difference, for giving us our freedom," he said.

Many of those in the parade probably noticed a simple sign carried by Janice Jones. It said, "Thank you veterans."

Jones said her father and three brothers served in the military.

"They do so much for us," she said. "This is just a tiny little way of saying thanks."

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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