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Steel City Salutes the Troops Celebration at Point State Park

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Fariss
  • 171st Air Refueling Wing
(Nov. 7, 2015) - The 171st Air Refueling Wing, in conjunction with the city of Pittsburgh and Point State Park, participated in the 2nd annual Steel City Salutes the Troops after the city's Veterans' Day Parade at Point State Park Nov. 7, 2015.

Steel City Salutes the Troops is an annual open house for the public to get a close look at the military of western Pa., both past and present. The event is a celebration of this region's military history, community impact and continued relevance.

The parade was the official start of the jubilation. Pittsburgh police led the ensemble followed by a joint-service color guard, which included members of the 171st ARW. It started near the Moorhead Federal Building and marched down Liberty Avenue to the edge of Point State Park, where more festivities followed.

People were able to get an up-close look at vehicles and weapons from the French and Indian War to the present. Those that participated, especially the young ones, seem to enjoy the hands-on experience of interacting with the military armament and heavy artillery. Sitting in a World War II era Jeep and working the controls of a mobile air-traffic control tower were some of the thrills experienced by those in attendance.

Many veteran-owned and supportive businesses and organizations, such as The Heroes Support Network and Team Red, White & Blue, displayed their products and services.  The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve were also present. These organizations provide services for current and retired military members.

The Pa. Army National Guard 28th Infantry Division Band, the Hit Brigade, performed a variety of songs. The set included classic songs from the 1950s through today that had the crowd dancing.

Reenactors from the French & Indian War, Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War II mounted, loaded and fired their weapons. With the background of the three rivers and colorful leaves on the trees, the smoke-filled sky added to the ambience. Besides the weapons demonstrations, they exhibited sleeping quarters, food preparation and personal hygiene. The Pirate Parrot, making a special appearance, sat down to get a trim and a shave by a World War II field barber.

Dozens of recruits, including 15 from the 171st ARW, engaged in a joint service mass swearing in ceremony. Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, ANG 28th Infantry Division Commanding General, presided over the service, culminating a day of honoring the military heritage of the area.