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Armed Forces Day Parade to feature troops, hardware

More than 300 service members are scheduled to march in Lawton Fort Sill's Armed Forces Day Parade here Saturday, Fort Sill media relations specialist Keith Pannell said Tuesday.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. from the intersection of C Avenue and Southwest 6th, proceeds west on C to Southwest 11th, and then turns north on 11th/Fort Sill Boulevard. It will pass the reviewing stand on the median of Gore Boulevard and end up at Ferris Avenue. Entries wishing to return to the staging area will use 4th Street as their route.

The lineup includes more than 100 entries, according to Kaley Patterson, communications manager for the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau, one of three co-sponsors of this year's Armed Forces Day Luncheon and Parade. Others are the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and the City of Lawton.

Many of those entries will be furnished by Fort Sill, from the 77th Army Band  "The Pride of Fort Sill"  to an installation color guard provided by the 434th Field Artillery (FA) Brigade. Of course, no parade would be complete without the Fort Sill Half Section, Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th &10th (Horse) Cavalry Association and Big Deuce, the mascot of 2nd Battalion, 2nd FA.

Not only will Fort Sill have its Family of the Year and many other top honorees in the procession, but also plenty of its military equipment: an Avenger air defense system, an M-7 Bradley Fire Support Team (B-FIST) vehicle, two front-line ambulances, an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), an M1200 Knight Fire Support Vehicle, an M119 howitzer with an M1097, an M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), an M109A6 Paladin howitzer, a Stryker vehicle, a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) launcher, an M984E1 wrecker and humvees. Many of these vehicles will be placed on static display in Elmer Thomas Park after the parade.

Co-parade marshals will be Maj. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, commander of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, and Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch. This year's Armed Forces Day theme is "Our Heroes, A Purple Heart City." Floats entered in the float contest must be in place by 8 a.m. Saturday to be judged.

Following the parade, an Armed Forces Day Celebration will take place on the east side of Elmer Thomas Park. There will be live music and vendors. It will last until 3 p.m. Sponsors are the Holiday in the Park Committee, Great Plains Area AMBUCS and Comanche Nation Casino.

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