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Veterans Day Parade grand marshal heard call to duty as a high school senior

Over the next week-and-a-half KTAR will be introducing and profiling the Grand Marshals for this year's Veterans Day Parade in Phoenix.

PHOENIX -- The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America triggered then-high school student Luis Narvais to join the military.

"My dad woke me up the morning it happened," Narvais recalled. "I knew at that moment I had to make a difference for the country."

Narvais is a lifelong Arizonan from Glendale and when he was first deployed to Iraq, he says it looked like the Arizona desert. On one of his first nights there, he had a wake-up call that he was actually very far from home.

"They blew up the fuel farm only 800 yards from where we were. [I] wasn't expecting that coming from the city life," Narvais said.

Narvais was deployed five times: Twice to Afghanistan and three times to Iraq.

One of his most memorable experiences occurred when he was called to retrieve a helicopter out of a kill zone and also recover two blown-up vehicles. During his excursion, he realized the soldier driving the vehicle was his platoon's honor graduate from boot camp.

Narvais says his fondest memories surround time spent with fellow Marines who became, and still are, part of his life and that will never be lost or taken away.

Narvais was nominated by his father to be a grand marshal in this year's Veterans Day Parade and that makes the honor very special to him.

"It was a shock to me, knowing what I had given to my family, the Corps and the country," Narvais said. "To have my dad looking up to me when I should be looking up to him."

And his father surprised Narvais with the announcement, as he had nominated his son surreptitiously.

"I didn't even know that he had nominated me. He calls me up and says, 'What are you doing next week? Can you get some time away from work? You're going to be a Grand Marshal. I said, 'What?' It was a deer in the headlights reaction," sais Narvais.

On this upcoming Veterans Day, Narvais says to enjoy the time with family, the barbeques and beers, but take a moment to remember the men and women who have served our nation.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite food: Steak and shrimp, and any food on campouts.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Favorite news memory: The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. The 2007 Southern California Firestorm and being at Sky Harbor Airport when the first plane lifted off several days after 9-11. Seeing the American flag on the tail of the Salt Lake City-bound Delta airliner as it took off still gives me goosebumps.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges -- which was outstanding --, Lonesome Dove.

First job: Spinning records at KLER Radio Orofino, Idaho 1980.

First concert: KISS/Cheap Trick 1977 Spokane, WA Coliseum.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, The University of Montana Grizzlies and Texas Rangers.

Outside interests: Sports, camping, fishing, traveling.

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