Due to COVID-19, the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade is moving to an online program. The program will air at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11th, typically the same time and day that the parade kicks off. During the online program, Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV), which hosts the parade, will present the seven “Honor Our Heroes” winners and the four High School Essay Competition winners. These “Heroes” reflect veterans from the state from significant conflicts from World War II to the present day. Honorees include:
- Bill Shackleford: World War II Honoree: Bill Shackelford enlisted in the U.S. Navy the day after Pearl Harbor. He was a junior in college, and the Navy offered him the ability to finish his junior year. He graduated from flight school as an Ensign and immediately entered active service. In September 1944, Shackleford was shot down but could land his plane on Panay’s island in the Philippines. He spent the next few months as part of the United States Far East Guerilla Forces. He holds one of our nation’s highest honors, the Distinguished Flying Cross, for his bravery. He currently serves as a Volunteer at Banner Boswell Medical Center as a Day Chairman.
- Avery “Dan” Hampton: Korean War: Hampton became a member of the S. Marine Corp at 17 years old in 1952. He served 20 years with an honorable discharge at the rank of Master Sgt. He was in the 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Division. Like many veterans of that time, he served multiple tours in different conflicts, including Korean and Vietnam. During his ten various major battle offensives, he was able to earn medals and citations, including the Presidential Unit Citation from the Korean Marine Corps. Today he ministers to Veterans from all wars through his church as a retired Baptist Minister.
- Thomas Kirk: Vietnam: Colonel Thomas E Kirk, Jr was a fighter pilot serving 28 years on active duty before his retirement in 1978. He is a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. During his military career, he served worldwide, including commanding a fighter squadron in the Vietnam War. While leading the largest fighter-bomber raid of the Vietnam War on Oct. 28th, 1967, Colonel Kirk’s F-105 was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Hanoi, North Vietnam. It burst into flames forcing him to parachute from it. Upon landing, he became a Prisoner of War spending five years at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp. His release came after the War’s end in March 1973.
- Jim Kelsey: Cold War: After his three tours in Vietnam, Kelsey went into Military Intelligence training at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona. During the Cold War, he worked with the Arab-Israeli Wars in 1973, handling all foreign visitors to the U.S. Army, including the first-ever Soviet personnel since World War II. He was a member of the prestigious Special Forces Green Beret and served for many years as an intelligence analyst. Among his medals during service, he holds the Purple Heart. Today he regularly speaks with students about his time in the military.
- Aaron Dudney: Somalia Conflict, Operation Restore Hope: Aaron Dudney joined the U.S. Army on May 21st, 1981. One of his most significant accomplishments during his Army career as an Airborne Ranger is leading the communication team into Somalia Africa to support the mission, Restore Hope. His team provided the airbase backhaul voice and data communication for the Fir Force, Marine Corp expeditionary force, and 101st Air Assault division. Today he works for APS, where he and another veteran created a Veterans Outreach group call Veterans Engagement Transition Retention Network (VETERANS).
You can watch the online celebration at www.honoringamericasveterans.org.