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After hosting a virtual Veterans Day Service last year, the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis is excited for a full return of Veterans Day festivities!

J. Stewart Goodwin, Brigadier General USAF (Ret) executive director for the Indiana War Memorials Commission joined us today to share how you can celebrate around Indy this year for the holiday.

There will be a Veterans Day Awards Breakfast, Veterans Day Service and live parade on November 11, 2021.

The awards breakfast will take place at 8:00 a.m. in the Arabian Room at the Murat Shrine in Indianapolis. Tickets are $20 each and don’t include parking.

The Veterans Day Service will be hosted at 11:00 am on the north steps of the Indiana War Memorial located at 55 E. Michigan St, Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Service will be live-streamed and available to view at the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis website:

The Veterans Day parade in downtown Indianapolis will immediately follow the Service starting at noon. The parade route begins at Michigan and Pennsylvania Streets, moves south on Pennsylvania to New York Street, west to Meridian Street, north on Meridian Street and finishes at North Street.

During the Veterans Day events, Hoosier veterans will be honored for their military service, past and present and local businesses will be recognized for their dedication and support of veterans and active-duty servicemembers.

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FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Veterans Day this year looked a lot different because of the pandemic. For the first time, the City of Fishers hosted their Veterans Day ceremony virtually.

When the city was originally planning their Veterans Day program they thought the event would be packed with hundreds of people. Because of the pandemic they had to go virtual this year.

Fishers is proud of their veteran community. If you drove through Fishers near city hall Wednesday you were greeted with dozens of flags and pictures of local veterans. What you didn’t see was a large crowd. The pandemic meant no in-person Veterans Day ceremony. Air Force veteran Julia Erb said while she’s disappointed about the changes, it didn’t change the pride she has of her service that she carries with her in her heart and on her chest.

“This is a cherished pin, it’s probably all that I have left of my military pins,” said Erb.

She has an honorary pin she and many other veterans received from Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness last Veterans Day honoring their service. She joined the Air Force when she was just 19 years old in 1971. It was a time when a woman’s role in the military was limited. The pin is a symbol of how far the country has come.

“When I walked off the base for the last time I was told not to wear my uniform. People were not accepting anything military at the time,” she said.

Vietnam Navy veteran El Ahlwardt also received one of those pins. He said while he understands the community’s disappointment, he said people don’t have to wait until Veterans Day to honor a veteran.

They’ve done something that not very many people have. For that reason they’re worthy of recognition,” said Ahlwardt.

Erb said that recognition means everything to her.

“People saying thank you for the time you served, It makes it easier for me to stand out in public and say I’m a veteran. That is something I couldn’t do for years,” said Erb.

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – For some military veterans, reminders of war can be difficult to face. This year, though, one World War II veteran in Virginia chose to relive a piece of his time in uniform.

Russell Scott served on a B-25 during WWII. He was forced to jump 9,000 feet from the warplane decades ago. He’ll never forget that day. On May 25, 1944, both engines were shot out during one of his first missions overseas in Italy.

“I never had a bad time other than when I was in the prisoner of war camp,” said Russell Scott last September. “That wasn’t too bad but with a broken back… it was kind of bad.”

He was just 24 when he was picked up by the Germans. And with a broken back in a POW camp in Poland, he never fully healed.

Now 98 years old, he walks with assistance because of that injury back in 1944.

Just shy of 74 years later, a B-25 showed up in Russell’s hometown of Richmond on its way to an airshow in Virginia Beach.

Russell was invited to go on a ride.

But because of his limited mobility, he couldn’t guarantee he would physically be able to get up the ladder and onto the plane.

He says they’ve tried to get him back in a B-25 twice in the past — without success.
Still, he agreed to go and see the plane while it was in town.

He rolled onto the tarmac that hot morning in May, giving everybody around him the impression he was just visiting the re-furbished bomber.

“I haven’t been inside one since I come out of it,” he said.

He’s sharp as a tack, though his body doesn’t move as freely as it did when he sat in that tail gunner position.

But on that tarmac that day, something was different. There was adrenaline pumping through his veins.
“I don’t think I need the step ladder because I think I can hit that first step,” Russell told some of the flight crew.

As the group went over pre-flight instructions, Russell started climbing the ladder of the B-25 all on his own.

And once he was inside the plane, he wasn’t coming back out.

“I could get in the plane easy then,” Russell recounted. “Didn’t have to worry.”

The air was thick and hot inside the B-25. No air conditioning — just the smell of engines.

There’s no way to know what was going through his head as the plane started its engines, but he did give a simple wave out the window to his posse of supporters who came for moral support. 

For the 20-minute flight over the City of Richmond, he stared out the window, taking in the sunny skies and the James River below.

The look on his face said it all. This vet was at home away from home, inside his plane for the first time in seven decades.

“I just felt like I wanted to be back in a B-25,” he said after the plane landed.

Russell was back on solid ground. But this time — no parachute required.

“I enjoyed being there, it felt like I was 24-years-old again,” said Russell. “Now I’ve had my last ride in a B-25.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) – For America’s World War II veterans, the soundtrack of their youth was the “Great American Songbook” and the big bands of the 40s.

Over the course of 60 years, active-duty Air Force members have helped to keep those memories and music alive through performances of the swing tribute band Airmen of Note.

“The heart of our mission is honoring our veterans. Their Airmen of Note are a centerpiece of that because those veterans love that swing music,” said Band Conductor Colonel Larry Lang.

The Airmen of Note formed in 1950 to continue the legacy of Major Glen Miller, whose big band was a musical hit machine during the 30s and 40s.

Miller joined the service in World War II and took his big band to the troops, eventually losing his life when his plane crashed into the English Channel in 1944.

“Everybody loved his music,” Lang said. “You know ‘In the Mood,’ ‘Tuxedo Junction,’ ‘Chattanooga Choo, Choo.’”

Now, the Airmen of Note use those hits to entertain crowds around the world. They are one of six musical groups in the U.S. Air Force that perform nearly 1500 events each year, including concerts at the White House and funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Air Force veteran Bob Jones served in World War II and the Korean War. He went to Washington D.C. as part of an honor flight from Texas, and after a day of sightseeing he and other veterans attended a special performance by the Airmen of Note.

“It just brought me back to the days when I was dating my wife, right out of high school,” Jones said. “The music is out of this world, and that band is out of this world. You can’t beat that combination.”

Read more about the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) – They say laughter is the best medicine – and for some veterans, stand-up comedy seems to be the best therapy. 

It’s called Comedy Bootcamp, and in the nation’s capital it’s helping veterans heal through laughter, as well as connecting them with other veterans who can offer support. 

For Marine Corps veteran Stephanie Kline, the stage is her outlet.  

“I write policy for the Department of Defense in my work, and there’s not a lot of creative in that, so I really needed something to help work through some issues,” Kline said.  

For two years, Kline has turned to stand-up comedy to help her through some of her darkest times – including returning home from service, finding herself unemployed and getting back into the dating pool after two divorces.

“It’s really difficult to laugh about someone who has been shot, someone who has PTSD, someone like me who was just lost and depressed for a while, and had failed relationships,” Kline said. “There’s a space created where you trust that the people laughing are laughing with you and not necessarily at your situation. And then they also trust that they are allowed to laugh, and you won’t be offended and that creates a lot of magic.” 

Sam Pressler is the co-founder of the Comedy Bootcamp, which is run through the Armed Services Arts Partnership.  Pressler began the partnership in college as a class project. Now it serves more than 650 veterans with comedy workshops and opportunities to perform stand-up in front of live audiences. 

“I think laughter and humor is one of the most universal languages we have,” Pressler said.

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — You can hear him coming with sounds of a bygone era.

The “chugga-chugga chugga-chugga” increases in volume as a sweet “toot-toot”  echos through the surrounding trees.

Then you see the puffs of smoke as a coal burning steam locomotive appears over a trestle. 

This event takes place almost every other weekend in Suffolk,Virginia. At the throttle is Retired Vice Admiral David Archizel.

“It was back in the day at my grandmothers house and the freight train used to run by everyday. I didn’t have trains at the time. That train always impressed me when it went by, and little things back in your childhood come to bite you I guess,” said Archizel.

Archizel’s trains are 1/8th the size of the real thing and over a mile of track surrounds his home in the Chuckatuck neighborhood. 

Many of the trains were built from scratch by members of the Southeast Virginia Live Steamers. The small group meets at Archizel’s home twice a month to work, but mostly play.

“My own railroad, it’s fun!” Archizel said. “What more can you want?”

It’s a loaded question from a man who has commanded far more than just a backyard railroad in his lifetime. 

Archizel, born in Ogdensburg, N.Y., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1973. For nearly 40 years, he climbed the ranks.

As a naval aviator, Archizel logged 5,000 flight hours, 4,300 of those hours in the S-3, according to his bio. When he retired in 2012, he was serving as commander, Naval Air Systems Command, headquartered in Patuxent River, Md.

However, it was a ship that leaves him feeling the most proud. Archizel was the the sixth commanding officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

“Nothing compares to the commanding officer of a carrier,” Archizel said. “It was really a wonderful experience and I loved it. And it was too short.”

Archizel never lost his desire to lead. That is where the railroad comes in.

“If I [didn’t] step in and do something, then this railroad would have died,” Archizel said.

In 2014 the previous owner of the railroad had put the home up for sale, according to Archizel. Original plans called for the railroad to be torn up. 

“She just said ‘you’re crazy Dave, but if that’s what you want to do, okay,'” Archizel said, describing his wife’s reaction when he brought up purchasing the property. 

Now, three years later, he wants to turn it into a tool to further strengthen the community. 

“You can actually learn a lot and it can also gives you an idea on what it’s like to work with people,” Archizel said. “I want children to come out here and learn about how things once were. It’s about this community and I think everyone should realize this railroad is here and enjoy it in some fashion. Why have it if you can’t do that?” 

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – An Army veteran received an honor more than 70 years in the making. 

Robert “Bob” White is 94 years old and was drafted into the Army in 1943. 

As a Private, First Class, White served as a lineman in communication with the 507th Parachute Infantry of the 17th Airborne Division during World War II. 

He participated in D-Day, The Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Varsity before leaving the military in 1946. 

“On Christmas Eve, we flew across the English Channel, landed in France, got out in 18 inches of snow and we went to war to the sound of guns, artillery shells,” he said about The Battle of the Bulge. 

White was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge with three bronze service stars and a bronze arrowhead for his service. 

In August, he was presented with another award — a Bronze Star Medal. 

On Tuesday, Congressman Scott Taylor presented him with another award, a Bronze Star Medal. 

Congressman Scott Taylor says in 1947, the government authorized that those who were awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, should also be awarded a Bronze Star. 

“For us to be able to recognize his service, even though it’s so much longer, it’s an emotional experience for me and it’s an honor, a huge honor,” said Taylor, who is also a veteran. 

The 94-year-old, who still jogs three miles every other day, is thankful for all that’s been done for him.

“I want to thank everybody and everybody has treated me so nice, like I’m somebody special,” he said.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Military homecomings are a part of the Hampton Roads culture. For Marine Gunnery Sergeant Jarrel Williams, the weight of seeing his sons again hit him before he even walked through the door of Alanton Elementary.

He was overcome as he paused the think about what they’ll do once they get reacquainted. 
“I don’t know yet, spend time,” Williams said through tears.

After a seven-month stretch in Kuwait, the 13-year veteran was at the school to surprise second-grader Kal-El and first-grader Koby. They’ve missed a lot of time together. 

“Missing the holidays, a big chunk of the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my son’s birthday, so yeah missing all the holidays basically, yeah,” said Williams.

Williams’ wife Audra and the staff at Alanton Elementary orchestrated the surprise. They were so secretive, even the normally reserved lunchroom crowd had no idea. 

With Jarrel waiting behind the curtain, Kal-El and Koby were called to the stage. Then the curtains opened.

“You guys been good? I’ve missed you a lot, I love you, both of you,” Williams said as he embraced his sons.

The lunch crowd erupted into a big round of applause.

The Williams family has a lot of catching up to do. Sergeant Williams said seven months away will give you a lot of time to put things in perspective. 

“Feels good, a lot of catching up to do, it’s a lot of catching up to do definitely, just want to make sure I’m active in their life, just trying not to take things for granted.”