New parade grounds open as Sheppard honors armed forces

Senior Chief Petty Officer Benno Lederer of the Navy Seabee detachment here renders a salute while passing the reviewing stand during the Armed Forces Day Parade May 19. It was the first parade on Sheppard’s new parade field. Also pictured is Seaman Recruit Vincent Karkau.   (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle).

Senior Chief Petty Officer Benno Lederer of the Navy Seabee detachment here renders a salute while passing the reviewing stand during the Armed Forces Day Parade May 19. It was the first parade on Sheppard’s new parade field. Also pictured is Seaman Recruit Vincent Karkau. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle).

Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines carry the colors May 20 during the Armed Forces Day parade at the new parade ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle).

Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines carry the colors May 20 during the Armed Forces Day parade at the new parade ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle).

A member of the Special Activities Team stands at attention during a performance May 19 at the new Sheppard parade grounds. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle).

A member of the Special Activities Team stands at attention during a performance May 19 at the new Sheppard parade grounds. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle).

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The inaugural event at Sheppard's new parade field got off to a hot start May 19 during the annual Armed Forces Day Parade. 

Brig. Gen. James Whitmore, 82nd Training Wing commander said the first parade on the new field would've happened a month sooner, but he wanted to give the grass enough time to grow. After looking at the calendar, he said it seemed appropriate to have the inaugural parade on the day the armed forces were recognized.
"We wanted to make the first one special," he said, adding it was still a success with 90-plus degree weather. 

Although the new field is smaller than the old grounds, the general said it is more advantageous for three reasons: officials and guests in the reviewing stand can see the troop formations better; the sound from the band and sound system doesn't echo; and participants and guests aren't staring into the sun regardless of the time of day.
A couple of the other new amenities the parade ground offers that were not at the old field are some of the creature comforts. 

"The old parade field didn't have any restrooms," General Whitmore said. "The only water we had was what was hauled out there." 

Now spectators and participants have access to restrooms and a water fountain on location. 

The new field also makes it easier for officers participating in the parade. The general said concrete pads were put out in the field for officers to stand on to not only mark where they are supposed to stand, but make facing movements easier. 

The field currently has a T-38 Talon on the northwest corner of the field, paralleled by a T-37 Tweet on the northeast corner. The general said those two aircraft embrace the mission of the 80th Flying Training Wing. 

In the near future, aircraft that capture the 82nd TRW mission will be perched on pedestals on the two southern corners of the grounds, including an F-15 and F-16.
Each branch of the military was represented at the parade, including formations by the Army and Navy. Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines teamed up to carry the colors before all the state flags of the country. 

Officials, guests and spectators were treated to a performance by the Student Action Team's rifle squad and choir, which performed all of the service's songs.