Greenville native to march in 57th Inaugural Parade

Published 2:54 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One Greenville native will soon participate in an American ceremony as aged and sacred as the nation that established it.

Airman First Class Tucker Harrell will be marching in the 57th Presidential Inauguration Parade alongside more than 170 other individuals comprising the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard.

Harrell is a ceremonial guardsman in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, and he has been stationed at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling (formerly the Naval Support Facility Anacostia and the Bolling Air Force Base) for nine months.

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Although relatively inexperienced in Inaugural Parades — he’s only 19 years old after all — he has undergone rigorous preparation for the big event.

“We’ve had rehearsals for the past few weekends and all during this week,” Harrell said.

“We woke up at 2:15 in the morning to march down Independence Avenue for two hours.  We are just trying to make everything perfect for the Inauguration parade.”

Thorough preparations are nothing new to the U.S. Air Force Band.

Despite being the youngest of the military bands based in Washington, D.C., the Air Force Band’s history is no less extensive nor impressive, boasting participation in 15 Inaugural parades since its formation in 1941.

Harrell said that being a part of such a storied organization was amazing, and probably one of the biggest accomplishments of his life thus far.

“I’m really excited to be marching in the Inaugural Parade this year,” Harrell said.

“It’s our job as the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard to go out there and represent the entire Air Force to the best of our ability.

“This is what we have been constantly training for.”

The route is a 1.5-mile march that starts at 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, and continues well beyond the White House.  But it’s not the longest march Harrell has had the pleasure of participating in.  That honor goes to the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“It was the longest march I’ve ever done,” Harrell said, who added that the entire route was a little over three miles.

“It was pretty amazing. I’ve never been in anything that big in my life. My whole family was sitting at home trying to watch me for the seven seconds I was on television.”

Despite participation in two major events in a relatively short time frame, and at a relatively young age, Harrell isn’t fazed by the formality of it all. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity to serve his country — an opportunity that he is very thankful for.

“It’s pretty much life-changing,” Harrell said.

“To come out and represent the Air Force and to do it with a bunch of guys who’ve worked really hard to get to this point is wonderful. It’s definitely something to build on.”