When Dunwoody’s 4th of July parade steps off a week from today, spectators will view a special treat, courtesy of the Veterans of Foreign Wars special relationship with the Georgia Army National Guard.
A huge, H-60 Black Hawk helicopter will be flying over from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to the parade route and then a landing and display in Dunwoody Village. Pilot Chris Kernan is even a Dunwoody resident (see parade program).
The local VFW post adopted the Army National Guard’s 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion prior to its deployment to Kuwait in 2003 and again before its deployment to Iraq in 2010. The post’s members have provided financial assistance to deployed military and their families back home. The VFW also has a retired Army chaplain who provided counseling services and spiritual guidance. It sponsored picnics, an Easter Egg hunt and school supplies.
Those close connections led to the decision to fly and land the Black Hawk for the parade.
The 1-171st GSA battalion dates only to 1995, but it has a proud history. From 1996 through 1999, it helped reinforce security for the Atlanta Olympic games, support fights against forest fires and supplied areas devastated by Hurricane Floyd. In 2003 the unit performed combat operations in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. The deployment lasted a year.
In the summer of 2005, the unit and its eight helicopters, were deployed to the Gulf Coast to help in the recovery and evacuation after Hurricane Katrina. A year later it was flying humanitarian aid to the people of the Dominican Republic. Since it began, the 1-171st has supported the 48th Brigade Combat Team and the 5th Ranger Battalion.
In 2010 it supported Iraqi forces and Operation New Dawn, returning home the day before Thanksgiving last year.
Another unique entrant will be the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck, a promotional vehicle for that state’s huge potato industry. The truck will drive the parade route and distribute some potato products, but instead of finishing in Dunwoody Village it will cross Chamblee Dunwoody Road and set up its wares at Publix for the day.
As is becoming the July 4 custom, Pirates again are entered, complete with their Johnny Depp lookalike. They will be joined by the Channel 2 news anchor, John Bachman and the popular Harry the Hawk of Atlanta’s NBA team.
The 116th Army National Guard marching band again will participate and play at concert at parade’s end.
For more details on this year’s parade, see the parade program insert. Or view on the e-Edition page under Special Sections.
Remember, the parade begins this year at 9 a.m.