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Fort Sill soldiers salute as they march in Saturday’s Armed Forces Day Parade.Children wave flags to show their support for the troops during the 50th annual Armed Forces Day Parade sponsored by the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce on Saturday.A soldier pokes his head up from a heavily armored fighting vehicle to give a thumbs-up to spectators watching the Armed Forces Day Parade here Saturday.

Military vehicles return to parade

Military vehicles made a welcome return to the lineup of the Armed Forces Day Parade here Saturday.

Budget cuts caused by sequestration kept them sidelined last year, but for the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce's 50th anniversary parade there were plenty of old stalwarts like the Paladin howitzer, the Patriot missile system, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), the Stinger/Avenger, the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), the Triple 7 and the M-88 recovery vehicle.

There were also less familiar vehicles like the M1200 Knight, the Stryker, the Bradley Fire Support Team (BFIST) vehicle and a couple of mementoes from past wars brought by the Fort Sill Directorate of Museum Services.

For a few people the occasion was bittersweet. As narrator John Beemer pointed out, Sgt. 1st Class Marty Schmidt was making his final appearance as drum major for the 77th Army Band. He will be retiring after 26 years of service, and Saturday was his birthday.

It was also a great way for Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald to celebrate his birthday, as he counts down his days as commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence. McDonald's next assignment will be running Army Security Assistance Command in Huntsville, Ala.

Col. William Spangenthal, commander of 97th Air Mobility Wing, rode a Jeep in the parade ahead of a contingent from Altus Air Force Base.

"We have a parade in Altus, a parade in Lawton, and we were happy to come to Lawton and be part of the Armed Forces Day Parade. Armed Forces Day is about unity among all the services, and being part of today's parade is special to us," he said.

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