BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – Veterans and their families gathered with the community Friday in downtown Bakersfield for the 102nd annual Bakersfield Veterans Day Parade. 23ABC was there to speak with Kern County veterans.
One was US Army veteran Jose Ortega.
“Going into the parade itself, seeing the people, it’s very appreciated, and of course I’m very grateful to them,” Ortega said. “The acknowledgments we get these days are tremendous.”
Ortega was commissioned during the Vietnam War in 1969 and served four years until 1973.
“It was when they were cutting staff and they said ‘Do you want to go home now?’ I said “Of course I want to go home now!” “said Ortega.
Other Vietnam veterans like Luis Ramirez say it’s nice to see all the veterans coming together and celebrating together.
“We all get together and visit, we talk and appreciate each other, we shake hands and we’re happy and proud that we’re all veterans and have served our country,” Ramirez said.
Ortega says being back in uniform and interacting with other veterans has brought out a new passion for him.
“For many years, without going into uniform, without forgetting it, maybe 30 or 40 years, I said, ‘Well, I’ve met some friends here, and they ride motorcycles, and I like motorcycles. So we started getting involved in veterans affairs,” Ortega said.
Ortega also had a message for fellow veterans he served with.
“All my friends who are waiting to come out, get back in uniform, I encourage them to do that,” Ortega said.
Many veterans who attended the parade said they were happy to have the community recognize them for their service.