This year's Tri-Valley Veterans Day parade on Pleasanton's Main Street today is going to the dogs, literally.
With a theme of "Dogs that serve," the parade will honor veteran K9s, including Coal, an improvised explosive device (IED) detector dog that served three tours in Afghanistan with Marine units. "Sergeant" Coal and his handler, retired Marine Corporal Patrick (Gus) Steuber, will lead the parade as grand marshalls.
The 19th Tri-Valley parade will feature more than 100 marching, walking and motorized units to make it the largest observance in Northern California.
Pleasanton's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 and American Legion Post 237 will host the parade that will start at 1 p.m. with a patriotic program of music and messages following at the Veterans Memorial Building.
The event is being held ahead of the actual Nov. 11 holiday, a tradition for the Pleasanton observance so that veterans can join in other celebrations on Nov. 11. Other cities, including San Francisco and San Jose, will hold parades on Nov. 11.
The Pleasanton parade will feature military and veteran color guards, horses, jeeps, Humvees and other military vehicles. Marching along the way also will be Girl Scout and Boy Scout organizations, the Alameda County Sheriff's Posse, Golden Gate Garrison Star Wars Storm Troopers, elected officials from Tri-Valley cities and veterans from Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea and even World War II.
The U.S. Army's 191st band and the Dublin High School band will march in the parade, along with the Scottish Bagpipe Band and the Young American Patriots Fife and Drum Corps.
Immediately following the parades, the veterans groups will host a Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Building at 301 Main St. with patriotic music to be provided by the Pleasanton Community Band.
After service in Afghanistan, Coal's K9 handler Steuber learned the dog also was going to be retired. He was successful in adopting the work dog, who has been with Steuber ever since.
Steuber meet Coal in June 2010 during training with the Second Battalion 1st Marine Regiment to become an IED detector dog handler. They were deployed together to Afghanistan four months later, where Coal worked out in front of Marne patrols sniffing for IEDs.