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Maryland Guard Supports Olympic Heroes Parade

By Army Capt. Rick Breitenfeldt
American Forces Press Service

BALTIMORE, Oct. 6, 2008 – The Maryland National Guard ‘Minuteman’ Humvee arguably is the most photographed military vehicle in the world -- at least it seemed to be over the weekend.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps waves from a specially painted Maryland National Guard Humvee during a parade in Towson, Md., Oct. 4, 2008. U.S. Army photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

An estimated 30,000 screaming fans lined the streets of Towson, Md., Oct. 4, along with local, national and international media to welcome home Olympic hero Michael Phelps as he made his way slowly down a two-mile parade route standing up through the sunroof of the now-famous Maryland National Guard Humvee.

“This thing is awesome,” said Phelps as he looked around the inside of the modified military vehicle, which is typically used for recruiting and retention events. “Everyone needs one of these.”

Driving the Humvee was Maryland Guard Staff Sgt. Demetrius L. Luck, who works full time with the Baltimore County Police Department and is routinely assigned to protect dignitaries and distinguished visitors.

Luck -- no stranger to driving a Humvee, having just returned from Iraq after a deployment with the Maryland Guard’s 58th Infantry Brigade Combat Team -- said he was honored to be assigned to Phelps for the parade.

“It was an exciting day for me,” he said. “It didn’t even feel like work.”

Brig. Gen. James A. Adkins, Maryland’s adjutant general, equated the success Phelps and his fellow Olympians have enjoyed to that of Maryland Guard soldiers who deployed.

“Michael Phelps and all of our Olympians are hometown heroes and represent what you can achieve with hard work and dedication,” Adkins said. “They have become much like the National Guard – a symbol of Maryland that has gone overseas and has returned with enormous success.”

The Maryland National Guard later provided a flyover with several UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Fort McHenry.

Other local Olympians also participated in the parade and festivities, including Katie Hoff and Jessica Long.

(Army Capt. Rick Breitenfeldt serves in the Maryland National Guard.)

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