Flags flew high as onlookers of the Veterans Day Parade gathered to honor veterans Saturday in downtown Roseburg.
Vietnam veterans Mel Cheney and Steve Frack were greeted as this year’s grand marshals and traveled at the front of the parade. The two both served as military animal handlers, which was the theme of this year’s parade.
It’s a topic in which Doug Schruth of Winchester has a lot of experience. He was a former military policeman and dog handler in Vietnam.
“It is such an honor to have served and to be recognized in a parade like this,” he said. “The civilians have been so kind and so good to us now. The way of thinking has changed a lot since we first got out.”
Schruth brought his 2-year-old German shepherd, Jett, to the parade. The dog is trained to help with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This dog is one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” he said.
Schruth received Jett from Northwest Battle Buddies over a year ago and believes that every veteran should own a service dog.
“We lose 22 veterans a day from suicide. I know guys who went through training with dogs like this, and if they didn’t have that dog, they wouldn’t be here today.”
Firetrucks, Shriners in miniature cars, bands, bagpipe players and participants leading dogs with patriotic scarves traveled downtown. Veterans were led in a trolley provided by the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Douglas County Commissioners Gary Leif, Tim Freeman and Chris Boice threw candy at bystanders and waved as the crowd cheered on.
For Vietnam veteran Terry Mooney, Nov. 11 means honoring fellow veterans he’s served with. Mooney, who is the president of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, brought his companion Yorkshire terrier, Liberty, to the parade.
“She means everything to me,” he said. “I think service animals are the most important thing for vets, especially those suffering from PTSD.”
Mooney added that being a part of the parade was “an unbelievable experience” and that his favorite part was the camaraderie.
“I enjoy talking to my brothers and sisters in arms, and I am so happy to be able to help other veterans,” he said.
The large number of entrants this year — more than 100 — was matched by a large, enthusiastic hand-waving crowd.
Katie Cripps of Roseburg said the parade was a great way for the community to come together and really show what Veterans Day was all about.
“My grandpa was a Marine in the Vietnam War, so this event means a lot to me,” she said.
Cripps daughter, Elianna, 2, picked up candy off the ground that was thrown by parade participants.
“I’ve been taking Elianna to stuff like this so she can learn the respect and community of it all,” Cripps said.
Levi Huffman, of Roseburg, brought his two sons to the parade. He said what brings him back each year is the community involvement.
“We want to show our support for the community and the veterans that served us,” he said. “They served our country and this is a way we can give a little bit of thanks back to them.”