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11-03-06, 07:13 AM
Onslow readies to honor veterans
November 03,2006
Micah Massei

They march for those who marched before them.

Honoring the men and women who lost their lives while serving in our nation’s armed forces, Rolling Thunder Chapter NC-5 will host this year’s annual Veterans Day parade Saturday.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at Coastal Carolina Community College, where participants will march from the local college, down Western Boulevard to Brynn Marr Shopping Center — all in paying tribute to what Rolling Thunder NC-5 president Carl “Hank” Hangsleben considers to be one of our nation’s most important holidays.

“This parade is not for those marching in it,” Hangsleben said. “We are there to pay respect and honor those veterans — past, present and future. The people of Onslow County comprise a large portion of those veterans, so this also honors Onslow County as a whole.”

This year’s annual parade features floats, museum pieces, antique cars, truck clubs, a motorcycle drill team, a “tiger” cage featuring an example of a Vietnam-era POW, a military flyover of Harrier jets from Cherry Point Air Station, units from Camp Lejeune, area Boy and Cub Scout troops, veterans organizations and local high school marching bands.

World War II veteran and retired gunnery sergeant Thomas Craigg will serve as grand marshal.

“Rolling Thunder met Mr. Craigg a few years ago — and what an awesome individual (he is),” Hangsleben said. “Mr. Craigg has given of himself to this country, as is truly evident of his decorated military career. He is a Bataan Death March survivor and (was) a Japanese POW for 40 months. He donated his home to the now present DAV Chapter 16 numerous years ago, so they would have a permanent structure to counsel the disabled veterans of this county.”

Though Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11, Onslow County’s parade in honor of the day traditionally is held the first week in November for quite a few reasons, Hangsleben said.

“For the past 10 years, it has always been held on the first Saturday of November,” he said. “We decided to follow that plan (again) this year, because we have so many military general-rank officers involved, and they would be tied up with the USMC ceremonies and holidays the military could not participate. (Also) everyone else was doing their parade, so we had no competition on Nov. 4. And the actual Veterans Day ceremony will be at the 11th hour of the 11th day — the actual signing of the World War I armistice and the actual end of the war — at the Jacksonville Veterans Cemetery and we did not want to interfere with that special time and date.”

Regardless of the date, Hangsleben hopes to have a large turnout for Saturday.

“Each parade has to top the next,” he said. “Getting the businesses involved has helped this parade tremendously in having a bigger turnout. Without the businesses and creativity, it cannot grow (and) we hope to have something different each year.”

“… There will be a lot of interesting equipment out there and so many veterans: Vietnam, World War II, Iraq.” said Robert Kimbrough, president of the Onslow County Council of Veterans Organizations which has sponsored the parade in the past. “And that’s the most important thing, honoring our veterans. This is another way for people to come out and do that.”

Hangsleben agrees.

“We would love to see the people of Onslow County show their support for these veterans by lining up Western Boulevard from CCCC to Brynn Marr Shopping Center,” Hangsleben said. “When Rolling Thunder rides each year in (Washington) D.C. for Memorial Day and the people are shoulder to shoulder and 10 rows deep for 11 miles, our goal is for Onslow County to show the same support and really show the county veterans that they truly appreciate each and everyone of them.”

Contact Micah Massei at mmassei@freedomenc.com or 353-1171, ext. 237.