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 talk with some Kern County veterans.
One was U.S. Army Veteran Jose Ortega.
“Getting into the parade itself, getting to see the people, very appreciative, and of course I’m very appreciative back to them,” said Ortega. “The thanking that we get nowadays is great.”
Ortega was drafted into service during the Vietnam War in 1969 and served four years until 1973.
“That was the time they were cutting back on personnel, and they asked ‘Do you want to go home now?’ I said ‘Of course I want to go home now!’” Ortega said.
Other Vietnam Veterans like Luis Ramirez say it is nice to see all the veterans gather and celebrate together.
“We all get together and visit each other, and talk to each other and enjoy each other, and shake their hand and be happy and be proud that we are all veterans and served our country,” said Ramirez.
Ortega says being back in uniform and interacting with other veterans has brought out a new passion for him.
“For many years, not getting into the uniform, forgetting about it, maybe 30 or 40 years, I said, ‘Well, I met some of the friends over here, and they are riding motorcycles, and I like motorcycles.’ So we started getting involved in veteran things,” Ortega said.
Ortega also had a message for his fellow veterans he served with.
“All my friends that are waiting to come out, to put back the uniform, I encourage them to do so,” said Ortega.
Many of the veterans who were at the parade said they were happy to see the community recognize them for their service.