The Flagler County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Palm Coast invite residents to gather for a blended Veteran’s Day Ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, November 11, at Central Park to honor the men and women who bravely served in the country’s military. The “Flagler County Colonel Gary E. DeKay Veteran of the Year” award recipient will be announced.

“On behalf of the Flagler County Veterans Advisory Council, we would like to announce our special guest speaker will be Joseph Pepin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served during the Vietnam War and who is Commander of American Legion Post 115,” said Veterans Services Officer David Lydon.

Pepin, who is from East Hartford, Conn., enlisted in the Marines after his high school graduation and earned the rank of sergeant during his service from August 1964 to December 1969 and traveled to more than 29 countries. He finally in South East Asia before returning to the United States.

Upon his return, Pepin worked as a recruiter in New York City.

“Can you imagine my excitement – 22 years old, being single, and being a Marine working in New York City,” he said. “One of my joyous jobs was being a member of an Honor Guard that presented the Bayside, Long Island, New York Fire Department with an American flag which flew at Khe Sanh, Vietnam.”

But there was the bittersweet, too. Pepin worked funeral detail and attended 267 funerals in two and one-half years.

Pepin served in the Connecticut National Guard from 1970 until 1978.

“I joined the American Legion 11 years ago,” Pepin said, noting that he was voted Commander of Post 115 two years ago. “Please support the American Legion, as it is by far the finest organization helping veterans and serving our community.”

The Veterans Day event is sponsored by the Flagler County Commission, the City of Palm Coast, and the Flagler County Veterans Advisory Council.

Veterans groups that will participate include: American Legion Post 115, Combat Vets of America, Marine Corps League 876, Military Officers Association of America-Flagler Chapter, Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 8696, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 86, Sons of the American Revolution, and the Knights of Columbus Assembly 2810, as well as Flagler Palm Coast High School AFJROTC and Matanzas High School Army JROTC, scouting troops from across Flagler County.

Central Park in Town Center is located at 975 Central Avenue, Palm Coast. A picnic lunch for veterans will follow from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for veterans and their families at Central Park in Town Center, 975 Central Avenue. Reservations are requested and can be made by calling 386-986-2323 or in person at the Palm Coast Community Center.