The men were only a few of the troops present Saturday for a parade in downtown Rome to honor veterans of the Iraq War.
Andrews served seven months in Iraq, working to ensure that remains of the fallen were safely returned home.
“I’m out here to remember the fallen,” said Andrews.
Staff Sgt. David Brockwell of the Army National Guard sat next to his family atop a military personnel truck that was driven in the parade. He served a year south of Baghdad as an M1A1 tank commander, helping to clear routes for convoys and serving on a quick response force team.
Brockwell said he was thankful for the parade, which gave service members a chance to recognize family who supported them while they were away, through the hardship of not always knowing their whereabouts or condition.
“This is the reason why we do this,” said Brockwell. “This is their future.”
Parade day began early as veterans started to gather in Rome at the Federal Building. Stella Calderon of Rome’s American Legion Post 5 stood holding a basket of green plastic wristbands as she waited to distribute them to veterans and their spouses.
With the parade in the plans since January, Calderon said she was proud to be a part of the effort in thanking the veterans and shook each of their hands as they passed by.
The rumbling of motorcycles and vehicles steadily increased in volumes the start of the parade approached. Army National Guard Spc. Erica Chandler shared a quiet moment with her dog Rusty as she leaned against a cargo truck.
“It’s important because people are showing their appreciation for Iraq veterans,” said Chandler.
Crowds lined the sidewalks and median to watch the festivities that included a fly-over by Tiger Flight. Floats, marching bands, Humvees and other military vehicles rolled down the street as music and cheers echoed off of the surrounding buildings.
Outfitted with a sparkling patriotic top hat, Annette Herrington cheered alongside her grandchildren Emma Herrington, 9, and Ellis Herrington, 7, as they watched the parade go by.
“This is so important,” said Herrington. “We want to show our support visibly with our flags and presence.”