Lt. Col. John Boccieri said he remembers sitting on a runway in Kuwait planning his next mission as co-pilot aboard a C-130 during one of his four deployments in support of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
''There, near us, I saw a color guard next to a coffin being lifted into the cavern of another plane. I wondered who that was. It was clear it was a veteran since Old Glory was there,'' said Boccieri, describing ''one of those images'' that just sticks with you during a lifetime.
Boccieri - a political leader turned military leader - served as guest speaker Saturday when Warren observed Veterans Day in the more quaint surroundings of First Presbyterian Church downtown.
Guests were greeted into the church with military music courtesy of the 338th U.S. Army Reserve Band led by conductor CW3 Ron Kuntz, and afterward 67 units stretched along a sun-drenched East Market Street for the annual Trumbull County Veterans Day Parade.
A former U.S. congressman and Ohio State senator and representative, Boccieri, current commander of the 773rd Airlift Squadron, also recalled a Marine he knew from Alliance.
Boccieri, who formerly worked at the Pentagon as a staff officer of the chief of the Air Force Reserve, recalled Dan McVicker as a soldier who couldn't wait to get into combat.
Tribune Chronicle photos / R. Michael Semple
From left, Joe Badanjek of Southington, Steve Millik of Champion, Clayton Beeson of Howland and Rudolph Zakrajsek of Southington, all of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2662 in Southington, attend Veterans Day services at the First Presbyterian Church in Warren.
''He decided he wanted a tattoo and he was going to discuss it with his pastor. They decided the tattoo should say Daniel 10:6,'' said Boccieri, referring to a war hero from biblical times.
The pilot went on to explain how McVicker was killed in battle Oct. 6, 2004 - the Bible verse matching the date of death.
''You're free not because of where you live, but because of who you live with,'' Boccieri said. ''Today is not a day to celebrate war. It's a day to remember,'' he said offering his own salute to veterans and guests who packed the church congregation.
A?full page of photographs from Veterans Day observances, 1E
Veterans get first look at the new book, "Valor and Sacrifice," 4A
Business: Programs help veterans find work, 1C
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin greeted everyone, especially veterans who ''fought for a set of ideals and principles.''
U.S. Air Force veteran Ralph McMillin, a motorcycle enthusiast and a representative with the Disabled American Veterans, received a special honor along with Tribune Chronicle Publisher Charles Jarvis, who was singled out for the newspaper's 200th anniversary and the newspaper's role in Veterans Day events.
And it was 96-year-old Tom Vouvounas of Warren who was singled out as the oldest veteran during the ceremony.
Seated in the first row, Vouvounas, the father of nine, wore his U.S. Army dress jacket and talked about serving in France in 1944.
''I was wounded July 25 of that year and spent seven months in a hospital in England,'' he said.
Meanwhile outside in the sunshine, Jim Grabosky and his wife Lorraine, of Warren, took their three grandchildren to the parade
Perched near the intersection of East Market Street and North Park Avenue, Matt Sarnosky, 11, Ava Sarnosky, 9, and Dominic Hollingsworth, 2, all of Warren, scrambled into the street for candy thrown to the youngsters from those on floats and veterans who had been profiled in the Tribune Chronicle every Monday since Memorial Day.
''They're still a little young to understand the real meaning of Veterans Day, but they'll learn,'' said Grabosky.
Bob and Reva Montgomery provided the review stand on the parade route and Diane Sauer Chevrolet provided the cars for the profiled veterans.