WENATCHEE — For as long as there's been a Veterans Day, there have been veterans in Pete Welker's family.
Wenatchee's annual Veterans Day Parade brought residents, veterans and non-veterans, to the streets of Wenatchee on Monday in what was the 100th Veterans Day. The day of remembrance began in 1919, a year after opposing countries fighting World War I declared an armistice.
Welker served in the military for 22 years as an infantryman, split between the U.S. Army Reserves and the National Guard. He deployed twice to Iraq, first from 2004-2005 and then from 2007-2008. His father served in World War II and his grandfather served in World War I.
He attended the parade to "give respect to those that are going to serve and those that have served.”
Welker was a member of Wenatchee’s 81st Armored Brigade National Guard unit during his second deployment. Portions of their training were done with the help of local police. Attending the parade is a way of giving thanks to law enforcement and veterans.
“It’s just out of respect for our men and women in uniform, past and present, to be here and to honor the people of Wenatchee and surrounding communities to be here,” Welker said. “Because without this community, our 81st Brigade — the local PD and the sheriffs departments — they really helped us with training. So it’s something to give back to the community.”
John Bush was a cook in the U.S. Navy from 1970-1974 and served aboard submarines.
He came to the parade to honor fellow veterans.
“I wanted to pay my respect to them and the ones that are still in,” Bush said.
Bush was part of three patrols, all 72 days underwater: one out of La Rota, Spain, and two out of Holy Loch, Scotland.
So what’s it like living in a submarine at sea for two and a half months?
“Find yourself a single-wide mobile home, black-out all the windows, put extra furniture in there and make it crowded and stay there for two months and live under just fluorescent lights,” Bush said. “That’s a good idea of what it’s like.”
Ray Duffy and Troy Skelton rode their motorcycles, like many others, to Chelan County Fire District 1’s Station 10 in downtown Wenatchee. The fire district has hosted post-parade lunches for veterans since 2000.
Duffy served in the Air Force as a military police officer from 1971-1975; Skelton served in the Navy as a boiler technician from 1979-1983.
“We’re vets and we come down for the parade just to meet up with all our friends,” Skelton said.
“To come out and honor the vets, it’s our last ride before the winter usually,” Duffy said.
Duffy brought his granddaughter, Madison, to the parade and firehouse. It was her second year joining him.
“I like doing it with my grandpa because you get to see everyone coming together to celebrate the veterans who are still living and who have died,” Madison said.