Soldiers and civilians of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin participated in one of the largest events honoring the military in the western United States, May 16-18.
The 55th annual Torrance Armed Forces Day celebration was a three-day event hosted by the city of Torrance in southern Los Angeles county. The five military services were recognized at the public event, where they rotate each year as the honorary service. The U.S. Navy led this year with Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, commander of Navy Region Southwest, serving as grand marshal in the parade.
Also featured in this year’s event was Sgt. Kyle White (Army Veteran), who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat in Afghanistan. White was awarded the nation’s highest honor for valor by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony, May 13.
This installation has supported the event for years with a presence of Soldiers in color guards and marching formations during the parade. Leadership – this year Col. Jon Braga, commander of Fort Irwin United States Army Garrison – represents the installation’s command during the three festive days that also includes a dinner, barbecue, static military displays and an exhibit by Environmental Division of Directorate of Public Works here.
The celebration began May 16 with the opening of displays from all five branches at the Del Amo Fashion Plaza. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment displayed an M1A1 Abrams tank, M2 Bradley fighting vehicle and a M88 recovery vehicle.
“The kids really seem to have fun,” said Staff Sgt. Alfie Harris, a M1A1 tank commander with 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. “And I’m amazed by the public support.”
Harris and his tank crew showed off their tank to the public, helping kids climb on and off the behemoth vehicle.
Kris Voight, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., brought his two young sons to the event, May 18. Voight said this was not the first time he brought his boys, Jake and Ben, to see the military vehicles.
“I think people really enjoy seeing this,” Voight said.
According to the Torrance city Web site, Torrance is one of the few cities in the nation designated by the U.S. Department of Defense to host an Armed Forces Day celebration and parade. The parade has the distinction of being the nation’s longest running military parade sponsored by any city. Begun in 1960, the parade has had up to 100,000 spectators and as many as 8,000 participants.
In 2005 the parade began pausing at the grandstand location to have new military recruits take the oath of enlistment. That first year, 20 Army recruits were sworn in by then-commander of the NTC and Fort Irwin, Gen. (Ret.) Robert Cone. This year, more than 800 recruits from every service were sworn in by Lorge.
The 2015 celebration will take place May 15-17 with the honored service being the U.S. Coast Guard.