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Troy Veterans Day Ceremony to honor those who serve

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 4, 2015

 Marine Sgt. Maj. Jason Cantu, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Royce Platt lay the memorial wreath at the 2013 Troy Veterans Day Ceremony.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Jason Cantu, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Royce Platt lay the memorial wreath at the 2013 Troy Veterans Day Ceremony.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

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The Troy Veterans Day Ceremony will be held at Troy Veterans Plaza in front of City Hall at 11 a.m. Nov. 11.

The Troy Veterans Memorial Committee hosts the event. VFW Post 4037 Cmdr. Mike McHale will introduce the various speakers during the event. McHale served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years, attaining the rank of gunnery sergeant when he retired in 2006. He served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

McHale noted that there are 600,000 veterans in Michigan.

“It really is an honor to participate,” McHale said.

Richard Pilon, 88, a retired auto worker, served as a corporal in the Army supply unit assigned to the Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany.

He will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He helped in the airlift operation of food, coal and other supplies to help the residents of West Berlin after the Russians blocked access to Berlin in Soviet-controlled East Germany during the Cold War. Flying around-the-clock from June 26, 1948, to May 12, 1949, more than 278,000 flights delivered 2.3 million tons of supplies, according to military records. At a cost in today’s dollars of $2 billion, a plane arrived in Berlin every 30 seconds.

“I was in the 61st Squadron, and my job was to keep the men supplied to keep the mission going,” Pilon said in a prepared statement. “Whatever they needed, we’d get it, from pencils and clothing to bedding and so forth.” 

Pilon said many people, especially those in their 30s or younger, aren’t aware of the Berlin Blockade or the Allied airlift that saved West Berlin and secured the freedom of people throughout the Cold War. He said he loves to tell the story.

Pilon has attended a number of events to discuss World War II and post-war operations. He said he loves honoring all veterans, and he has a display of military firearms to show visitors what the military personnel in that era had to use.

The Troy program will include a memorial brick dedication, the raising of the colors and the laying of the memorial wreath on the Veterans Monument. The Heritage Concert Band will perform. The Marine Corps League will do a rifle salute and will perform taps.

“Nov. 11 is another special day we can say thank you to all our veterans,” said Cindy Stewart, community affairs director for the city of Troy.

“We’re so proud to be able to honor American veterans Nov. 11 for patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice,” Stewart said. “Our community has many veterans, including many employees, police, fire and other city departments.”

The public may bring flowers, small flags and mementos to place on the Walk of Honor at the base of the Veterans Memorial to honor a loved one or all veterans. Commemorative bricks will be available for $60. For information, call (248) 524-1147.

Troy City Hall is located at 500 W. Big Beaver Road. In case of inclement weather, the Nov. 11 Veterans Day Ceremony will be held in City Council Chambers.

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