Moapa Valley Progress
In keeping with long-standing Mesquite Tradition, veterans were honored a week early throughout the day of Nov. 4 as festivities were enjoyed throughout the city.
Beginning with a ceremony at Pioneer Park, Vietnam Veteran Robert Barquist was honored with a plaque and recognized as the 2017 Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshall. Barquist served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971 as a Hospital Corpsman and has been an active member of the community for many years. He is often recognized as Uncle Sam during the annual parade. Barquist used his medical training for his career as a Medical Laboratory Technologist until he retired in 2012 from Mesa View Regional Hospital as the Laboratory Administrative Director.
This year’s parade had over 60 float entries involving over 900 participants from all over Southern Nevada. Local schools, businesses and nonprofit groups joined local officials and Congressman Ruben Kihuen in showing their support for all veterans. “We are very pleased with the turnout this year,” said Chuck Caldwell, current VFW Commander and co-organizer. “It is always an overwhelming feeling to see the support our community has for our veterans.”
While there was no flyover by any military planes planned, parade goers had a surprise nearly 15 minutes into the event as a UH72 Lakota helicopter flew in to save the day. This was thanks to local veteran Larry LeMieux, who had scheduled the aircraft to appear at the first inaugural Hangar Dance at the Mesquite Municipal Airport later.
The helicopter is used as a Search and Rescue tool for the Nevada Army Guard and was the very last one acquired by the Army. It is one of only 345 that were ever produced.
Attendees of the event at the airport were able to get a close view of the chopper and talk with guardsmen who know the ins and outs of its operation.
The Hangar Dance was also well attended, as multiple groups performed musical numbers and the Mesquite Elks Lodge #2811 provided some quality food and drinks. Monies collected from the event and raffle are slated to go towards the Mesquite Veterans Center to potentially expand and increase its available services to local veterans.
Hundreds of people showed their support throughout the event, many of them wearing costumes that were era related or the actual uniforms they wore at the time they served in the military. “The support our community has for our veterans never fails to amaze me,” said LeMieux. “We hope to bring this back each year to continue to show our support.”