SPOKANE, Wash. - Every year on Armed Forces Day the Spokane community gathers downtown to honor servicemen and women, past and present, in the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade. But if you ask those serving, they'll say they are participating in the parade for a similar reason.
"Support the community, you guys support us, it's our honor to do it to you," said U.S. Air Force Sergeant Jarod Savage.
Sgt. Savage is part of Fairchild Air Force Base's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training team, also known as SERE.
"Anyone in the military, in the Department of Defense that is a medium to high risk of capture, will come through the survival school," Sgt. Savage said.
Today, he and other members from his unit are using this day as a tribute to their fellow servicemen and women.
"We are going to provide them a free of charge meal and a drink to say ‘Thanks,'" Sgt. Savage said.
It can be a far cry from their daily duties in SERE training school. The program tests soldiers physically and mentally and prepares them for the worst. The Air Force says the skills taught during SERE training can mean the difference between life and death.
Fairchild is only one of four bases in the U.S. that offers the training.
"We are here to make sure everybody that goes out comes home. Period," Sgt. Savage said.
Whether it's flipping burgers or teaching an airman how to build shelter, for Sgt. Savage and his unit, it's a privilege to be a part of it all.
"The school will change your life. It changed mine 18 years ago and I'm still doing it," Sgt. Savage said.