SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Veterans Day is a day in which America recognizes all veterans- Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen.
To show support for Seymour Johnson and local veterans, Wayne County holds an annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Goldsboro, North Carolina. This year, an estimated 8,000 people attended the parade which featured a formation of more than 220 Airmen marching through the streets.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 3.5 million U.S. Air Force veterans are alive around the world today.
Modern heroes like Capt. Mark McDowell, 336th Fighter Squadron pilot, who was killed in action in 2009 while deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. An F-15E Strike Eagle flown by McDowell July 17, 2009, crashed near the Ghazni Province of Afghanistan, killing him and a fellow warrior, Capt. Thomas Gramith, 336th Fighter Squadron weapons system officer.
While many veterans fought for freedom, others made history by breaking barriers and paving the way for the ground-breaking capabilities available today.
Capt. Chuck Yeager became the first pilot confirmed to exceed the speed of sound in level flight Oct. 14, 1947. He would later go on to become the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing commander.
Countless other veterans have excelled over the years in areas ranging from technology development to wartime operations to organizational culture and command excellence.
Chief Master Sgt. Shane Wagner, 4th Fighter Wing command chief, said he believes the Air Force has come a long way since the first years of his enlistment.
“I believe technology has become more advanced and will continue to do so,” said Wagner. “But it would not have been that way if it wasn’t for the Airmen before us laying the foundation and those serving today.”
Wagner’s father served in the Air Force before him, so he is very appreciative for this holiday.
“Veterans Day means a lot to me,” said Wagner. “I have friends who served before me, and I get a chance to listen to their stories and hear their sacrifices. We all sacrifice something to wear this uniform and it’s truly an honor.”
Col. Christopher Sage, 4th Fighter Wing commander, believes coming together as a community to celebrate veterans who’ve carried out brave actions with quiet courage allows all who wore the uniform to be honored formally.
“Our veterans have faced different challenges over the years, but everyone paid the same price: Being away from family, putting duty, honor and country above personal gain,” said Sage. “We often think of historical figures when we celebrate this day, but many of you have your own heroes in mind. Grandfathers who stormed the beaches of Normandy, aunts or uncles you look up to for answering their nation’s call to serve. I am proud to be serving my country and to be a part of this incredible community.”