Gulf Coast community celebrates Veterans Day Published Nov. 16, 2016 By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield 81st Training Wing Public Affairs KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Nearly 5,000 Mississippi and Louisiana residents celebrated Veterans Day by honoring past and present service members during the 16th Annual Gulf Coast Veterans Day Parade in D’Iberville, Mississippi, Nov. 12. The spectators showed their support as more than 50 military themed floats and performers passed by including Junior ROTC units, veteran organizations and active duty Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard groups. In addition, Keesler Honor Guard members, base leadership and more than 200 81st Training Group Airmen with the 50 State Flag Team and Drum and Bugle Corps participated in the day’s celebration. “It was just so fantastic to have everyone here,” said Jeff Lawson, parade announcer. “(We) are just so honored and privileged to recognize each and every veteran we have here today and also our active duty personnel. I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of places around the country, including a few with a very heavy military presence, but I’ve never been anywhere where the support of our military is stronger than it is here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” The parade festivities offered past and present military members a chance to see how much the Gulf Coast communities care about them, said Joe Kelley, parade attendee and Air Force veteran. When Kelley served during the Vietnam War he said veterans didn’t receive recognition like this. “I come from the Vietnam era,” Kelley said. “At that time, nobody really liked the military. I am so happy to see today’s men women being honored."