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Town Board honors retired pararescue jumper for serving as grand marshal of NYC Veterans Day parade

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Carrick of Riverhead received a proclamation from the Riverhead Town Board Tuesday to honor his serving as grand marshal of the 102nd New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, where he marched down 5th Avenue before an estimated 400,000 spectators.

Mr. Carrick received more than 30 military awards and decorations during his Air Force career, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said.

The United War Veterans Council, the organizer of the parade, announced Mr. Carrick’s selection during an event in Times Square on Sept. 18. In a social media post, organizers wrote that they “surprised” Mr. Carrick, 62, with the news the week prior, during a visit to the 106th Rescue Wing at Westhampton’s Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base.

A large contingent from the 106th participated in the parade alongside Mr. Carrick.

“The 106th Rescue Wing could not be more proud to have one of our own, retired PJ (pararescue jumper), Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Carrick representing not only our wing but all veterans from all branches past, present and future in this year‘s New York City Veterans Day Parade,” the 106th wrote in a Facebook post prior to the parade.

In a press release, parade organizers lauded Mr. Carrick’s service both in overseas combat and in New York, noting his rank of senior master sergeant.

“He participated in countless civilian rescues on sea and land, jumping in to save New Yorkers and other individuals beyond the reach of other rescue efforts,” the release stated.

In a tribute befitting of the public health crisis’s circumstances, the first Veterans Day Parade during the coronavirus pandemic honored a life-saver. Mr. Carrick is a former Air Force pararescueman, the only part of the nation’s Special Forces primarily dedicated to saving lives.

He was based at Gabreski Airport for most of his career, he said.

Pararescuemen, a division of the United States Air Force, recover injured individuals in combat and humanitarian situations. Their nearly two years of training includes emergency medical technician skills, survival techniques, diving courses and parachuting.

Mr. Carrick said the recognition and opportunity was a “huge honor,” particularly because he had the opportunity to represent and spotlight the pararescue field.

In a career spanning 25 years — he joined the New York Air National Guard in 1978 and retired in 2003 — Mr. Carrick served the New York area through some of the region’s most significant tragedies, including TWA Flight 800, the 1995 Sunrise Wildfires and 9/11.

A version of this story first appeared in The Southampton Press.