“They threw everything they had at us. We were on general quarters for five days and five nights straight,” said Konyndyk as he enjoyed a lunch honoring veterans at the Cortez Elks Club before participating in the Cortez Veterans Day Parade.
Some 30 entries, including marching bands, vintage cars and wagons and carriages, made their way down the tree-lined avenue from Elm to Harrison streets.
A flyover by four vintage airplanes, conducting the traditional missing man formation to salute lost soldiers, highlighted the parade.
Special homage was paid to Will Lindsay of Cortez and Scott Koppenhafer of Mancos, who died this year as the United States continues to combat terrorism in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay, a 33-year-old Green Beret based in Fort Carson, Colorado, was killed in March along with a fellow Fort Carson soldier from Ohio during combat operations in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Scott Koppenhafer, 35, was killed Aug. 10 in Iraq after being wounded while supporting Iraqi Security Forces. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Camp Lejune, North Carolina. He was attached to the Marine Raiders, which is tasked with direct action, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism and information operations.
Along the parade route, placards on flagpoles displaying small American flags paid special tribute to Lindsay and Koppenhafer.
In Memory of All Our Fallen Soldiers
Will Lindsay, Scott Koppenhafer
Thank You for Your Service
Konyndyk, 94, wonders whether younger generations appreciate the sacrifices made by service members like Lindsay, Koppenhafer and himself.
“You look at some young people and ask about World War II, and they just shrug and say, ‘Huh, what was that?’” he said.
Lynn Gann, veterans project chairwoman with the Cortez Elks Club, said she expected to serve 170 meals of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, peas and dessert to veterans and their families on Monday.
The Elks Club plans to start programs that provide warm clothing to veterans and to provide repair help for jobs on veterans’ houses.
A fundraising dance and auction to support the programs will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. Jan. 18, at the Elks Club.
At the parade, Vietnam veteran Richard Johnston of Cortez, who served in the Army infantry from 1968 to 1970, said Veterans Day will always be special for him.
“I lost a lot of friends in Vietnam,” he said. He added he especially appreciates the sacrifices of the generation that came ahead of him: “Without the World War II vets, we wouldn’t have had a country at all.”
Johnston said the loss of Lindsay and Koppenhafer made Veterans Day especially poignant this year in Cortez.
“The fact that we lost two – it rings at home, you might say,” he said.
Johnston added he had one final reason to attend the parade: His grandson was playing drums with the Cortez Middle School marching band.
“I like watching a parade,” he said.