Ellensburg celebrates and remembers


Mariah Valles, Online Editor

On Monday at 11 a.m. the Ellensburg community gathered near Pearl Street to commemorate veterans for their service. People waved flags and cheered as veterans passed by on foot and in World War II-vintage military jeeps and trucks.

Donald Bechard served in the Navy from 1964-68. For him, attending the parade serves as a time of reflection.

“It just brings back a lot of memories,” Bechard said. “Just life on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier … it wasn’t fun.”

Kyle Wilkinson

A girl scout handed Bechard a card. While the card didn’t have any words, it made him feel appreciated. 

“When we came back from Vietnam, we were not appreciated,” Bechard said. “In fact, you didn’t even want to tell anybody that you were coming back from Vietnam.”  

Today, when he walks outside, Bechard thinks differently. 

“I’m just proud to be what I was,” he said. 

After completing bootcamp, the Navy sent Bechard to aviation electronics school for a year. He learned a variety of things including radar systems and how to repair them and about electronic warfare systems. 

Berchard and his wife Sheril have both children and grandchildren. Bechard has one grandson in particular who is interested in learning about his grandfather’s time in the military. 

In 1967, while stationed at Barbers Point Hawaii Operations, Bechard’s flight crew was selected to fly around Australia and New Zealand for the 25th celebration since the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea. 

This was one story in particular Bechard shared with his grandson. 

In regards to the parade, Bechard was happy to see young people participating. 

“It’s good to see the ROTC kids here … and the old guys like me,” he said.