Fallon Armed Forces day gives back to military

The Nevada Army National Guard was out in force at the 2023 Fallon Armed Forces Day.

The Nevada Army National Guard was out in force at the 2023 Fallon Armed Forces Day.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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Longtime Fallon resident and entrepreneur Essie Burriss has a special place in her heart for veterans and first responders.

In what began as a small event on Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May, has emerged into a full day of activities on Saturday at the Rafter 3C Complex. Events begin from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to honor the men and women who serve their fellow citizens. The opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m.

“Our determination to make it work involved donations and the participation of nonprofits,” she said of the short history of the day.

Over the past five years, Burriss said the Fallon Armed Forces Day keeps growing with the number of vendors and events. Also in attendance will be crafters and vendors, food, kids zone, live entertainment and much more. This year, Burriss said she’s thankful for the Churchill County Commission for its $3,500 donation, which has helped with advertising Fallon’s Armed Forces Day and generating more interest.

“We have a lot of veterans groups out of the Reno-Sparks area,” she said.

Previous Armed Forces days have included representatives from the Nevada Department of Veterans Services and Veterans Affairs. Also, organizations involving the veterans will be in Fallon on Saturday including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Fleet Reserve Association, the Vietnam Veterans of America and many more.

“We’ll have a warrior group that helps veterans find jobs,” Burriss said, adding more veterans want to help each other.

Burriss said a 4D/Pee Wee barrel race will be held in the main arena, and a poker run is also planned.

Burriss beams with pride when she said the first 1,000 veterans and first responders will receive a free lunch.

“We give back to the military and first responders,” she said.

Not only does Burriss think it’s important to have veterans’ groups at the Armed Forces Day, but she also feels it’s vital to help veterans throughout the year. She said if a veteran needs propane, for example, then she’ll find a way for the vet to receive the gas.

Armed Forces Day was created more than 70 years ago. 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.

Armed Forces Day recognizes active-duty or active Guard and Reserve military personnel, but over the years, organizers of Armed Forces Day events have included all veterans.

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, in Churchill County. A U.S. Navy Reserve center is also located at NAS Fallon.

The Lahontan Valley is also home to the Nevada Army National’s Guard’s 609th Combat Engineer Company.

With the creation to honor the military services, 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 in 1950 held the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of the country’s land, sea and air defense.


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