Despite a washout of the planned Veterans Day parade in downtown Huntsville, dozens of community members gathered at the Round House for a breakfast in their honor.
“Nobody does it better than this community,” said Army Materiel Command General Gus Perna.
“They come out in full support, they spend the week taking care of wounded warriors and reflecting on all the veterans’ sacrifices. And they do it with grace and sincerity, and I am so proud to be part of this community.”
A highlight of Monday morning’s ceremony was the presentation of a Gold Star on behalf of First Lt. David Albandoz.
Albandoz was the co-pilot of a C-130 plane that crashed in Savannah, Georgia in May. The Madison resident served 16 years in the United States Air Force, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.
He was also an engineer for the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal.
His wife, Nikki Padureano, accepted the Gold Star with their daughter, Aelaina.
“We definitely appreciate all the hard work that the military has done,” said Padureano. "And we do feel like we have a family here. It's not only the military, but also the community that has come together from the very first moment we brought him home.”
During the breakfast, General Perna also spoke to the need to continue modernizing the Army and marveled at seeing the various generations of veterans assembled together.
“For the first time in our history, in long time, the youngest veterans are represented today. Seventeen years of war have brought a new class of veterans up, and it is just powerful that we are recognizing them and our senior veterans simultaneously,” said Perna.