Honor Ride Parade: At 10:00 a.m. the Honor Ride Parade kicks off the event. Rolling Thunder Alabama Chapter 1 has invited Motorcyclists from North West Fl, South MS and South AL to parade down Government Street through the Bankhead Tunnel and on to Battleship Memorial Park. They will be escorting a caravan of “Honor Buses” transporting Vietnam & Vietnam Era Veterans from across the Gulf Coast to the event. Gold Star Mothers will also be in the parade.
Opening Ceremony: At 11:00 a.m. the Color Guard begins, followed by National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, Invocation, Special Speakers, and Benediction.
Reunion Tents: Special Tents for each branch of service will offer memorabilia displays & Veteran reunion activities. Message boards will help attendees contact friends and share information on upcoming reunions.
Resource Tent: The Resource Tent will provide information on VA & Vet Center Services, VA Cemetery benefits, and programs of interest to Vietnam Veterans. Key community groups will also share information on Veteran friendly activities.
Family Tent: Staff from VA’s Caregiver Support Program will provide information and special activities for families of Vietnam Veterans in the Family Tent.
Vendors: Food, beverage, and Veteran themed items will be available for purchase from vendors registered with the Battleship Foundation. *http://www.ussalabama.com/
Live Music: Local bands will play during the afternoon.
Parachute Drop: The Silver Wings Parachute Jump Team from Ft. Benning, GA.
Military Equipment Displays & Museum Tours: (Details coming soon)
Other Presentations: During the afternoon there will be a special Missing Man Ceremony Honoring POWs & MIA’s, and a presentation on the Vet to Vet Peer Support Program.
Vietnam Veterans Receive free Museum Admission: Following the Opening Ceremony, Battleship Memorial Park will provide free museum admission to Vietnam and Vietnam era Veterans with wristband tickets. The museum includes special exhibits inside the aircraft hanger, the Battleship itself, Submarine USS Drum, and more. Admission fees are also waived for Active Duty Military. Many local Veteran Service Organizations have volunteered to help with distribution of wristband tickets. Vietnam Veterans can also contact the nearest Vet Center to obtain their free museum ticket. Here is a list of Gulf Coast Vet Centers:
Biloxi MS Vet Center (228) 388-9938
Mobile AL Vet Center (251) 478-5906
Pensacola FL Vet Center (850) 456-5886
Okaloosa County FL Vet Center (850) 651-1000
Bay County FL Vet Center (850) 522-6102
How to Help with the Event
Outreach: Download the event flyer and share it to encourage Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans to attend the celebration. Save the Date Flyer.
Cheering for the Honor Ride Parade: Civilians can help by recruiting community groups to line the parade route in downtown Mobile and cheer for the Veterans. The best viewing areas will be along Government Street between Virginia Street and the Bankhead Tunnel.
Honor Buses: Because of the number of Veterans expected to attend this event, parking is expected to be limited. Volunteers are needed to organize Honor Buses (similar to Honor Flights). The term “Honor Bus” refers to any vehicle transporting a group of four or more Vietnam & Vietnam Era Veterans to Battleship Park for the event (buses, vans, trucks, and cars). Sponsoring an Honor Bus provides an opportunity for community and faith-based groups to reach out to Vietnam Veterans who might not ordinarily participate in their group. Organizers may choose to arrange car pools, use church buses, or rent shuttle buses to bring Veterans to the event. More than just transportation, the Honor Bus provides camaraderie for Veterans en-route, and helps Veterans develop new friendships that can continue after the event. For bus availability or more information on bus sponsorship, check here*. You may also email Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at: email@example.com
Volunteers: Many Veterans groups and community organizations across the Gulf Coast are seeking help with preparations for the event. Please contact your local Veteran Service Organizations to offer your assistance. In Mississippi you can also go online to the United Way of South MS Volunteer Center *www.unitedwaysm.org and click volunteer to learn more about ways you can serve at designated project sites. In Alabama contact Hands on South Alabama at *www.handsonsal.org.
Donations: Those wishing to make donations to support the event can contact VA Voluntary Service at (228) 523-5786 or the Battleship Foundation for details.
VA Donation Letter
Link to Our Site at: http://www.Biloxi.va.gov/Vietnam.asp
Honor Ride Parade
Registration: Registration for the Honor Ride Parade is free. Motorcycle riders must be Vietnam or Vietnam Era Veterans and can register by sending an email to Rolling Thunder Alabama Chapter 1, c/o Don Westwood at firstname.lastname@example.org. The email should include each riders’ name and cell phone, and if applicable, the name of the motorcycle association. To ensure adequate paved parking, motorcycle registration is open to the first 700 riders. Motorcycles should arrive by 8:30 a.m. at Ladd Peebles Stadium for form up. Honor Buses are invited to follow behind the Motorcycles in the Honor Ride Parade. Further instructions to will be sent to Honor Buses that have registered with the DAV.
Parade Route: The parade will leave Ladd Peebles at 10:00 a.m. using Michigan Avenue to reach Government Street, then through Bankhead Tunnel and on to USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park.
To schedule media interviews please contact Jerron Barnett, VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System Public Affairs, at: Jerron.Barnett@va.gov. or by phone at (850) 912-2380.
Learn About Vietnam Veterans
Education Day Friday, March 30th: The Education Day is a "Pre-event" for students and educators along the Gulf Coast and will be held inside the museum between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Field Trips to this event will give younger generations the chance to meet Vietnam Veterans and learn about the Vietnam War. During this time Vietnam Veterans will hold 15 minute scripted presentations followed by Question and Answer sessions for the students. Presentations will be repeated throughout the day. Vietnam Veterans will also be available near military equipment and memorabilia displays to answer questions. Middle and High School students, as well as College & University Students are welcome to attend. For more information contact: Stuart Allgood, Mobile County Public Schools Television Network, Wallgood@mcpss.com, phone: (251) 221-4005
Educators Packet: *http://www.savc.net
Link to Virtual Wall: *http://www.virtualwall.org/iStates.htm
Links to Similar Events:
Green Bay Wisconsin: *http://lzlambeau.org/
Fayetteville North Carolina: *http://www.heroeshomecoming.com/
Tulsa Oklahoma: *www.operationoklahoma.org
The Gulf Coast Vietnam Veterans Salute is hosted by the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System and Vet Centers in partnership with Battleship Memorial Park, the City of Mobile, local Veteran Service Organizations, community groups and businesses from across the Gulf Coast. A more detailed list acknowledging sponsors & donors will appear in the Veterans Resource Guide to be distributed at the event.
* Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites. The link will open in a new window.
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