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Mercury News Sal Pizarro column

San Jose Mercury News - 11/8/2017

Nov. 08--San Jose will salute its military veterans on Saturday as the city's annual parade -- presented by the United Veterans Council of Santa Clara County -- fills downtown with marching bands, military vehicles and various dignitaries. The parade, of course, marks the armistice that ended World War I in 1918, and you'd expect a good crowd this year since it falls on a Saturday.

The grand marshal of the parade is retired Rear Adm. William Copeland Jr., who served as commander of the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group following a career as a naval fighter pilot and instructor at the Naval Fighter Weapons School, made famous by the movie "Top Gun." Copeland, who lives in San Jose, retired from the Navy in 2000 and went on to work for Sun Microsystems before becoming president of Top Gun Consulting, an executive leadership and coaching group.

A 10 a.m. ceremony at Plaza de Cesar Chavez will be held before the parade, which will start at 11 a.m. at West Santa Clara Street and Highway 87. It'll travel east along Santa Clara to Market Street, where it'll turn south toward the reviewing stand in front of the park. For those who haven't been before, the parade often runs well past two hours, so plan to bring a chair and cheer for a while.

MORE SALUTES TO VETERANS: More than 100 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be serving a free breakfast to veterans Saturday morning before the San Jose parade. Social service agency Opening Doors 2020 teamed up with KnowAVet.com to host the event at its headquarters at 304 N. Sixth St. in San Jose. The 8 a.m. breakfast is free for veterans, active military members and their families who RSVP by going to www.regathon.com/breakfast or calling 408-401-1090.

Santana Row will also do its part to celebrate veterans on Saturday with Honor on the Row, an event featuring a performance by Opera San Jose's veterans chorus, a gold star memorial, a display of military vehicles and classic cars and a collection booth for care packages for the Cost of Courage Foundation. There'll be plenty of veterans organizations out there, including Blue Star Moms, Spirit of 45, Daughters of the American Revolution. The free event runs from 2 to 6 p.m.

And don't forget that it's also a good time to pay respects to our fallen veterans at any of the South Bay memorials in their honor, including the San Jose Veterans Memorial near the Center for the Performing Arts, the Sons of San Jose Vietnam War memorial near SAP Center, the Santa Clara Veterans Memorial in Central Park, the Cupertino Veterans Memorial at Memorial Park, where there will be a program at 11 a.m. Saturday.

SPECIAL MISSION: As part of its semester field training, the Bronco Battalion ROTC -- made up of cadets from Santa Clara University, San Jose State, UC-Santa Cruz and Stanford -- will be taking off from Mineta San Jose International Airport like few people have on Saturday morning. The California Air National Guard will be providing two UH-60 Blackhawks to transport about 80 cadets from Mineta San Jose International Airport on Saturday morning for a two-day air assault training exercise in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Lt. Col. Jason Noble, a military science professor at SCU, says the group is hoping to have the stepfather of one of the cadets who was a World War II fighter pilot out there to meet the cadets and aviators. "It's an opportunity for us to recognize a true American hero and a member of the Greatest Generation on Vet's Day," Noble said.

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(c)2017 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

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