White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez and Command Sgt. Major William Maddox paid hommage to military veterans as they paraded past the reviewing stand during the Las Cruces Veterans Day Parade that kicked off at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - signifying when the formal end of World War I occurred in 1918.
That honor and tribute was in full display by enthusiastic crowds lining the streets of downtown Las Cruces to show their support as veterans from wars dating back to World War II paraded past.
Two of those veterans were Simon Mendoza and Benjamin Boykin, who were honored as Parade Grand Marshals at the forefront of the parade led by a Tri-Service Color Guard from White Sands Missile Range.
When Mendoza and Boykin passed before the reviewing stand, the parade stopped as Sanchez presented an honorary medallion to Air Force Korean War veteran Boykin, while Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima did likewise for Mendoza, an Army veteran from World War II.
Sanchez and Maddox continued to show their support in the form of waves, salutes and a thumbs up to the more than 60 parade participants consisting of bands, classic cars, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Junior ROTC units, and numerous floats and vintage military vehicles honoring veterans.
The presence and support of WSMR key leaders and the Color Guard continues to play an important role in the event, said Dolores Archuleta, a senior organizer for the parade and a former WSMR employers of 36 years.
“It’s very important for us that Whites Sands Missile Range continues to participate every year. It’s important for the community to know what White Sands does and its importance to the community,” said Archuleta, who has been organizing the event for more than 20 years.
Representing the WSMR Tri-Service Color Guard was Private 1st Class Joel Garcia, Petty Officer 3rd Class Elizabeth LePage, Sgt. Monica Meras, Sgt. Rigoberto Olmeda, Airman 1st Class Cody Phelps, A1C Anthony Phillips, Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin Ramirez and Sgt. Alec White.