Retired Senior Master Sergeant to serve as grand marshal of 2021 NYC Veterans Day Parade

WESTHAMPTON, Long Island (WABC) -- New York City will once again be host to the nation's largest celebration of veterans with the annual Veterans Day Parade, and leading the way this year as grand marshal is U.S. Air Force veteran and local hero Kevin Carrick.

Carrick, a retired Senior Master Sergeant, served for over two decades as a pararescueman with the 106th Rescue Wing out of the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton, Long Island.

As a pararescueman (also known as a "PJ"), Carrick was a member of an elite but little known part of our nation's Special Forces -- the only one dedicated to saving lives.

Carrick served on numerous overseas combat deployments helping rescue downed airmen and other wounded U.S. military personnel.

In addition, 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.

RELATED | 2021 NYC Veterans Day Parade: Everything you need to know

Carrick was also part of nation's first military response immediately following the 9/11 attacks, deploying to Ground Zero to aid in initial search and rescue efforts.

He called being Grand Marshal a big honor.

"Veterans, they represent what's really good about America," he said. "And to be able to be like their spokesperson is a big deal."

Carrick said he will be joined on the float with several of his family members, including his two small grandchildren.

He said many of his friends from his time in the military will be in the crowd as well.

"It's going to be a big day," he said.

He still lives near the 106th's Westhampton base, providing guidance and inspiration to the next generation of service members -- including those who deployed in support of the COVID crisis this past year.

The New York City Veterans Day Parade will once again be aired live on WABC.

The 102nd annual parade, produced by the United War Veterans Council, will mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the Global War on Terror, as well as the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm.

CLICK HERE for more Veterans Day Parade stories from abc7NY.

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