ROCKAWAY BEACH, New York --New York Guard member honored during Queens County St. Patrick’s Parade
New York Guard member Steve Vera, served as the deputy grand marshal of the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on March 4 in Rockaway Beach.
Vera, the command sergeant major of the New York Guard’s 88th Area Command, said he accepted the positions to honor the 88th’s Civil War ancestors, the members of the 88th New York Volunteer Infantry.
The 88th Regiment fought in the famous Irish Brigade, alongside the better known 69th Infantry Regiment, which is still a unit in the New York Army national Guard.
The New York Guard is a volunteer force which uses military ranks and structure and augments the New York National Guard during state emergencies.
“I accept this position on behalf of those Soldiers of the 88th who were forced to march into battle while we march in celebration,” Vera said.
Forty members of the 88th marched in the parade as well.
“Given that our military lineage traces back to the Civil War Irish Brigade, it is appropriate that we participate in events such as this,” said 1st Lt. James Chin, a Queens resident assigned to the 88th’s operation section.
“As the only military unit marching in this parade, we presented a professional appearance which was greatly appreciated by the crowds along the line of march,” Chin added.
“We were grateful when members of the National Guard and the New York Guard were among the first to come to our aid after Hurricane Sandy left us looking like a war zone. So, when we see the Soldiers of the New York Guard marching down our streets during the Rockaway St Patrick’s Day Parade, it is no wonder they receive the loudest claps and cheers”, said Katie McFadden, Editor of the Rockaway Times.
Community members also recognized the service of the 88th by presenting the unit with a plaque commemorating New York Guard Staff
Sergeant James Rodriguez. He died away just one day after marching in the 2015 parade.
The plaque was accepted by Vera and by Rodriguez’s daughter, New York Guard Sgt. 1st Class Becky Rodriguez.
Marching in the Queens County St Patrick’s Day Parade is an annual event for the New York Guard unit, which operates throughout New York City.
Staff Sergeant Eddie Santiago with the 88th Area Command noted, “Our Soldiers love this parade. The crowds are very enthusiastic and welcoming of the New York Guard. We don’t often get this kind of support so when it comes our way it is a good feeling,” said Staff Sgt. Eddie Santiago.