Aurora parade tribute to veterans

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The city government of Aurora, with support from the Aurora Veterans Advisory Council (AVAC), will be host to the annual Veterans Day Parade at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.

During the ceremony, veterans, to include mayor Richard C. Irvin, State representative Linda Chapa LaVia, State representative Stephanie Kifowit, and other guests will pay tribute to fellow veterans. They will be joined by Captain Anna Gonzales, the acting Regional Health Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Region 5.

“We are extremely grateful to our veterans and their families,” said mayor Irvin, a United States Army veteran. “The parade is a special time to reflect and to say thank you to those who sacrificed so much for the liberties we have as Americans.”

In commemoration of the end of World War I and the signing of the armistice on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, the traditional military rifle salute will commence at 11 a.m.. In tribute to the centennial of this historic Armistice of November 11, 1918, the City will join the national Bells of Peace initiative and toll a bell during the same time.

The parade will step off from the corner of Broadway and Benton Street, go north on Broadway, then west on Downer Place to the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall, 23 E. Downer, where the ceremony will take place.

The 2018 keynote speaker for the Veterans Day ceremony will be Lieutenant Colonel Erik Pettyjohn, the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor for the Air Force JROTC Unit at West Aurora High School, two-time national champions.

Lieutenant Colonel Erik Pettyjohn is a third generation fighter pilot and retired U.S. Air Force officer. He retired in June 2011 after 20 years on active duty in the United States Air Force. Pettyjohn spent 10 years as a fighter and instructor pilot. He flew F-16 fighter aircraft over Iraq in support of Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch. Lt. Col Pettyjohn spent 10 years of his Air Force career as a project manager and engineer. His final assignment was as the 640th Electronic Systems Squadron Commander, with more than 100 personnel under his command and an annual budget of more than $120 Million.

Lt. Col Pettyjohn was graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with a bachelors of science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He holds an MBA from Aurora University, a masters degree in systems management from the University of Southern California and a masters degrees from the air command and staff college.

Among his decorations, Pettyjohn has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, two air medals, and in 1997 he was awarded the Billy Joe Dryden Semper Viper Award, an award given for the top feat of airmanship in the F-16 out of the 19 Air Forces worldwide that fly the F-16 fighter aircraft.

Immediately following the ceremony, the G.A.R. Memorial Hall will be open for tours. From 9 a.m. to noon, the Aurora Historical Society will provide free coffee and donuts to spectators at the Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Place.
—Aurora city government

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