43rd annual Veteran’s Day parade marches through downtown Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Columbia’s Veterans Day Parade ran down Sumter Street Thursday morning and early afternoon.

Military personnel from all branches, veterans, ROTC members, high school marching bands and more joined the salute to service.

Veterans Day means a lot to those who have served.

Everything. The veterans will never be repaid for what they’ve done,” said Army veteran Richard Hankins. “I just honor all the veterans wherever they may be.”

“It’s a good day to get with everybody, meet a lot of old veterans, talk to them and see how they’re doing,” said another Army veteran Larry Mason.

If you speak to a veteran, you may find out they have an interesting story.

“I started in 1958 and went to Korea,” said Hankins. 

From there, he spent decades in the military. Hankins went to Texas, Germany, Japan, Chicago and Fort Jackson. It’s the base where one man who grew up in an orphanage started his military career.

“I started out as an MP here in Fort Jackson back in 1964,” Mason said. “I actually worked with the Columbia Police Department driving this vehicle.”

After that, he says served in the army’s criminal investigation division, went to Vietnam in the cavalry division and then worked in Europe for INTERPOL. 

“During my career, I had long hair and a beard. I had a good time,” Mason laughs. “I didn’t even realize I was supposed to retire. In 1984, they told me ‘You’re supposed to retire next month.’”

Hankins also remembers his military career fondly.

“I would not trade a minute of the entire service. It had its ups and downs, good days and bad days, but it was something I enjoyed,” he said. “I love serving my country and if I was called again, I would go today.”

Both men say that it is harder to recruit people for the military today, but say that serving is just as important.

“Even more so today. The Army is great for anybody,” Hankins said. “I’d recommend it to anybody.”

South Carolina’s rich military history lives on today. More than 3,500 soldiers are at Fort Jackson and the state of South Carolina has the 8th highest number of military personnel in the nation. 

Categories: Local News, Richland