SAN BERNARDINO - Hundreds of people - some in uniforms or patriotic garb - showed up for the Veterans Day Parade and Car Show on Saturday to show their appreciation and thanks for those who have served their country.

"Today is the day we honor our men and women in uniform," said Mario Montecino, a veteran who founded the Inland Empire Military Museum and was the master of ceremonies.

Children and adults eagerly approached men and women who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and more current conflicts such as Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom and shook their hands, saluted or just simply said, "Thank you."

"I'm humbled and honored," said Army Spc. Chase Ash of Mentone, a Silver Star recipient who was the grand marshal of the Veterans Day Parade.

Gary Caldwell, 55, a Navy veteran, looks at the engine of a 956 Chevy 210 sedan during the Veteran Day Parade.
Gary Caldwell, 55, a Navy veteran, looks at the engine of a 956 Chevy 210 sedan during the Veteran Day Parade. (LaFonzo Carter/ Staff Photographer)
"I can't help but think there are other veterans out there who served in Vietnam or World War II who are more deserving, but I'm not going to turn down this honor."

The soft-spoken 29-year-old served in the Army from 2002 to 2005 and was awarded the Silver Star on Sept. 12, 2004, for gallantry while serving in action, according to his citation.

Ash, while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, risked his life to help save the lives of six wounded comrades after their vehicle was hit by a suicide bomber, according to his citation.

He exposed himself to heavy fire as he helped get the wounded soldiers to a safe and concealed area, the citation continues. Once there, he provided suppression fire as the injured were loaded onto rescue vehicles and taken to a safer location for treatment.

Celebrated comic artist Phil Yeh added Ash's portrait to his newly completed mural on the wall of the McDonald's Museum at 1398 N. E St.

Ash joins other San Bernardino area notables such as Garner Holt, who began an animatronics studio in his San Bernardino garage in 1977 and has provided designs for Disney's California Adventure "Cars" ride and for Chuck E. Cheese.

Others on the mural include Oscar-winning actor Gene Hackman, who attended San Bernardino High School, Dorothy Inghram, the first black school teacher in the county and first black principal in the state, and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Joseph C. Rodriguez.

Adella Ash of Redlands was beaming over grandson Chase Ash's inclusion on the mural.

"We're just so proud of him," she said. "I can't even begin to tell you what a wonderful job he's done."