Fallon’s Essie Burriss had a vision for the Churchill County community to give back to military veterans and first responders with a special day for them.
The Fallon Armed Forces Day, a celebration to honor veterans both serving and retired, is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 3C Event Complex (Churchill County Fairgrounds) with the opening ceremony at noon. Burriss said the Fallon Armed Forces Day also includes first responders for their contributions to the community.
Burriss, whose father and uncles served in the military, began talking to area veterans and groups and decided that Fallon should be hosting its own Armed Forces Day. Fallon is the home of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, one of the Navy’s premier training schools, and Naval Air Station Fallon.
“It’s more of giving back to the community in addition to programs such as Toys for Tots and donations for the seniors and other groups,” she said.
The progression of the Fallon Armed Forces Day has been steady. Begun during the COVID restrictions, the special day expanded in 2022 by drawing a big crowd. Burriss expects the same number of, if not more, people attending this year’s salute.
“We’ll have the Nevada Department of Veterans Services here,” Burriss said, adding representatives will have information on the programs the state agency provides as well as information on military funerals.
NDVS oversees the operations at state military cemeteries in Fernley and Boulder City.
Other booths will include veterans from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America in addition to active military.
Another addition to the Armed Forces Day is the Horsemanship for Heroes program owned by Scott and Karolyn Hooper, both retired Army colonels. The mission of the program states it “promotes the healing and well-being of veterans, emergency responders, and their families through equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning, empowering them to build resilience, self-awareness, and personal growth.”
Another event planned for Fallon Armed Forces Day, Burriss said, is providing a free lunch for the first 1,000 veterans and first responders as long as they’re in uniform or can produce a military ID card.
Burriss said Fallon Armed Forces Day also features a craft fair and vendors, food, a poker run, honor garden, family games and entertainment. There will also be a cornhole competition, bounce house, face painting, a petting zoo, many games and activities for all ages.
A Poker Chip Run and motorcycle games are also planned. Registration for the Poker Chip Run begins at 9 a.m. followed by the run at 10 a.m. She said the ride is dedicated to the memory of Don Hardy, who was involved in the community as a volunteer with many events including the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival, Farmers Market, auto racing and youth activities. He also served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy.
Sponsors include the city of Fallon, 3D Shipping, Army National Guard and Nobody MC (motorcycle club).
Armed Forces Day began four years after the end of World War II. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced in 1949 the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate days honoring the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Johnson asked each service to recognize one day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day, but the Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but also supports Armed Forces Day.
The first Armed Forces Day was held in 1950.
Nevada has two major military installations, one in Southern Nevada outside of Las Vegas and the other, Naval Air Station Fallon and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center. Fallon also is home to the Nevada Army National’s Guard’s 609th Combat Engineer Co.
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