LAGUNA VISTA — To pay their respects to the men and women who gave their lives in defense of the country, officials in Laguna Vista have been hard at work planning the upcoming Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony.
The parade theme this year is “Always Honor, Never Forget.”
City Manager Rolando Vela said 32 members of the “Warriors Unified in Arms” from Brownsville will be participating in the parade.
“This is a group of mostly Vietnam veterans. We will be needing golf carts, etc., to transport these Brownsville veterans and have them participate in our parade. We are asking the community to help us transport these veterans,” he said.
“We are encouraging all those that want to participate to decorate their golf carts, boats, trailers and vehicles. We want to especially invite all veterans to participate in this parade.”
The honorary guest and keynote speaker will be Brownsville resident John (Johnny) A. Perez, a World War II veteran.
Vela said Perez joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 15 with his mother’s permission.
“After basic training in San Diego he boarded the USS Franklin which took him to Pearl Harbor. Upon arriving, he was sent to Waipio Peninsula for additional amphibious landing training. He then boarded a personnel ship to the Mariana Islands. He was promoted to boatswain’s mate second class,” Vela said.
According to his Navy records, he was 18 years old but in reality he was only 16.
In February of 1945, he sailed to Iwo Jima and that same year, while aboard the ship, he witnessed the USS Franklin almost destroyed after being hit by piercing bombs dropped by Japanese dive bombers.
In December of 1945, after his hospital stay, he boarded the USS Oakland to San Francisco.
He served 19 straight months of sea duty before being honorably discharged in 1946.
The Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at Veterans Park, following the parade. During the ceremony, the hymn for each military branch will be played.
All veterans in attendance will be recognized.
“The American flag, which flew at the American Embassy in Saigon, will be encased in glass and on display during the ceremony,” Vela said.
“The enemy attempted to destroy this flag while it flew. It was later liberated when the Saigon Embassy was evacuated.”
If you go
The Town of Laguna Vista Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony will take place on Monday, May 30, at 5 p.m.
The parade will start at 5 p.m. at the Laguna Vista Public Library on FM 510 and proceed to Veterans Park.
All veterans are encouraged to wear military uniforms, hats, caps or other symbols of patriotism.
Survivors of veterans are invited to join in the march and are asked to carry photographs of their loved ones who served in the military.
The entire community is encouraged to participate in this event. In addition, this year marks the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.