Los Angeles welcomes home U.S. troops with parade WAR IN THE GULF

May 20, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- With warplanes roaring across a blue sky, tanks rolling down Sunset Boulevard and anti-war activists providing a staunch protest, Los Angeles yesterday hosted a homecoming parade for troops returning from victory in the Persian Gulf war.

An audience estimated at 500,000 to 1 million lined the 3.2-mile Hollywood parade route, enthusiastically cheering more than 5,000 troops returned from victory in war with Iraq. Many warriors still exhibited the stone-faced military discipline in their invasion of Hollywood while celebrities like Bob Hope and Roseanne Barr played to the crowd.

As troop formations, tanks and floats trundled along Sunset Boulevard, an array of modern and vintage warplanes streaked over the parade route, banking north past the Hollywood sign, which was festooned with a yellow ribbon for the occasion.

Big cheers also greeted veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The response was especially sweet for Vietnam veterans. "Us, we didn't get this," said Vietnam veteran Kurt Phillips. "It's a welcome home for me and all the Vietnam vets too."

Parade-goers expressed their feelings with cheers, signs and red, white and blue fashion statements. Seventeen-year-old Jennie Hentch decorated her sweatshirt with the message "Thank You" and "Welcome Home."

Yellow ribbons like those worn by Maria Hearn were also popular. Ms. Hearn said she drove for an hour to attend the parade because "we love our guys that went over there."

Hours before the Hollywood parade began, the event gave the movie capital the look of a town newly liberated by an invading army. Crowds started gathering at noon for the 4 p.m. event.

Streetcorners on Sunset were dominated by groups of Marines in full desert combat regalia, rifles slung on their shoulders. Old Glories and yellow ribbons where everywhere.

A re-enlistment ceremony was staged for three Army reservists who served in the war. Retired Brig. Gen. Jimmy Stewart -- better known as an actor -- swore them in.

A contingent of soldiers from Fort Irwin held down a oversized helium-filled replica of an M-1 Abrams tank. Nearby, anti-war activists who had been rebuffed in an attempt to march in the parade before made one last attempt, but were turned away.

"I think it's an obscene scene," Jim Harrington, a 70-year-old World War II veteran, said of the parade. "This war was the equivalent of Mike Tyson pushing a drunk off a barstool. It was a high-tech slaughter."

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