Jakari Coles, a member of the Southwest Onslow High School band, may have just had a little more purpose to his marching on Saturday.
Coles was among hundreds of people who participated in the annual Veterans Parade Saturday along Western Boulevard in Jacksonville.
“My dad is a veteran,” said Coles, who plays alto saxophone. “He served seven years before he was discharged because of asthma. It means a lot to honor him and all the veterans, especially in a military town like this.”
About 120 units participated in the parade, which was organized by the Rolling Thunder veterans organization.
“We’re all about veterans and keeping people aware of the POWs and MIAs,” said Bryan Dent, who retired after 22 1/2 years in the Marine Corps and has been a member of Rolling Thunder for five years. “We’re trying to bring them all home.”
He was glad to see the streets lined with people who came out to recognize and honor area veterans.
“It means a lot to all of us veterans to know that we still have the support of the locals in the area, and Jacksonville is a military town,” Dent said.
Sandy Ingram brought her 6-year-old daughter Jordan to the parade.
“It’s Veterans Day, so we had to come out and show our support,” said Ingram, whose son is a drummer in the Swansboro High School band that marched during the parade. “We have to support our community, and we thank the veterans very much.”
Pfc. Bubby Earnest volunteered to help out with parade setup and said he learned a lot from the veterans he met.
“It’s a great opportunity to be here,” said Earnest, who arrived at the Logistics Operation School at Camp Lejeune just a couple of weeks ago. “I think it’s great to hear the stories from all the other veterans and the advice they gave to us as new Marines and for them to share their experiences with us. It’s great to give back and volunteer to be here.”
Earnest and Pvt. Alex Misenti helped veterans and participants in the parade find their proper spots in line.
“It’s really nice to get out and talk to people who have already served and get to know the community,” said Misenti, who is also new to Camp Lejeune. “I think it’s great to recognize what they’ve (veterans) done and especially recognize their sacrifices. They’ve served in Vietnam or Afghanistan or other wars. They’ve sacrificed a lot.”