I drove my 1986 M1009 CUCV in the parade today. And it was a very heart-warming experience. I had not been in a parade since returning from the first Gulf War. I did two more Middle East tours before retiring.

Anyway, the closer we came to the grandstand, the larger the crowd and more joyous the cheers. Then it hit me. The phrase “All gave some, but some gave all” ran through my head. Tears of joy from the loving crowd flowed with tears of sorrow of my fellow fallen comrades. Then as the sun warmed my face I could almost feel that scud explosion again. That fateful day of Feb. 26, 1991. It missed us and landed just on the other side of the road where a PA reserve unit had recently arrived and was housed in a warehouse on warehouse row. The carnage was beyond comprehension. I had been on many Medivac and SAR missions. I had seen much more death (disfigured and dismembered people) than most, as a Huey Crewchief, prior to the war. This was the worst of the worst sight in my life.

I kept my composure as things looked blurry through my swollen eyes. I kept smiling and waiving as we drove out of sight.

During the parade my vehicle started making an odd sound. I though it might be a driveshaft u-joint. So after a short meal with a fellow vet and his wife, we went to a repair shop named Ken’s Auto Service. I was 150 miles from my house in Clarksville, Tenn. and needed to see if it would be okay to limp it home.

Since they were very busy, Ken crawled under and checked it out himself. Then had me bring it around so a mechanic could take a look and see if greasing the u-joints would help to get me home. The mechanic said the grease worked with one u-joint, but the other would have to be replaced. All agreed that they needed to do what was needed to get me home safely. Ken called Autozone and they brought a u-joint over right away.

When they delivered it, the bill for the part said, “No charge. Thanks for your service. Autozone Team.” The mechanics replaced the bad u-joint and Ken told me, “No charge, thank you for your service.”

I was overwhelmed again.

I cannot thank the Covington community enough for giving this old vet the opportunity to participate in the parade (via the Mid South MVPA Chapter) and for making this Veterans Day so special. For assisting in the healing of my soul. And especially for making sure I returned from the parade mission, back to the loving arms of my wife safely.

P.S.: My military vehicle served in Reforger 1986 in West Germany, in Team 1987 S Korea and state side at Camp Shelby, Miss. until auctioned off as obsolete three years ago. I served in those same two overseas locations as well as the first Gulf War and two Middle East peacekeeper tours before retiring where we drove the same type of vehicle.

Best regards,

SSG Raymond Knox

US Army, Retired

Jeff Ireland is The Leader's sports editor. To contact him, call 901-476-7116 or email jireland@covingtonleader.com.​