By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
Inspired by the success of a last-minute parade for Iraq War veterans held last month in St. Louis, Killeen resident Michael Rodcay wants to organize one here.
"I've got 40 percent of the job done, all the leg work is complete," said Rodcay, who is trying to build interest in a "Killeen Thank the Heroes" parade planned for April 20 downtown.
"Doing something says 'thank you' a lot louder than doing nothing," he said, adding he's got a Facebook page dedicated to the parade and has already recruited several area sponsors, including H-E-B and Waco 100 radio. "I just feel that the three-to-six-year soldier who deployed their first time to Iraq deserves that recognition, just the city behind them, saying 'Thank you.'"
Rodcay, a staff sergeant assigned to III Corps at Fort Hood, visited the Area Veterans Advisory Committee on Feb. 11 to present his plan as a private citizen, he said, not a soldier. He said he was advised to find a "grass-roots organization" to back his idea, and is trying to find one.
The committee sponsors Killeen's annual Veterans Day parade. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Don Fender, its vice chairman, said Monday he had advised Rodcay on behalf of the council to partner with an area veterans organization, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Disabled American Veterans, to help him garner support.
When and if Rodcay gets backers, it's unclear whether Fort Hood will clear its soldier to participate.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon expressed a preference for communities to wait until all veterans are home, including those in Afghanistan, before holding such celebrations.
But Rodcay said waiting too long will be a missed opportunity.
"You want to tell me to wait two years? The soldiers who deployed to Iraq and their families in two years are going to be (moving) and be at their next assignment," he said. "How (am) I supposed to say 'Thank you' then, not only to the service members, but also to their families?"
Fort Hood did not respond to earlier requests for comment on this topic.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.
For more information on the Thank the Heroes Parade, go to the Killeentx Thanktheheroes Facebook page.