Arizona soldier goes from the battlefield to Veteran’s Day parade

Nov 6, 2014, 8:59 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2014, 7:37 am

PHOENIX — It has been an incredible journey for an American soldier, from the football field to the battlefield, to being a grand marshal in the Phoenix 2014 Veteran’s Day parade next week.

Retired Army Maj. Ernie Urquieta grew up in Superior, Arizona and was briefly a linebacker at the University of Arizona before a knee injury ended that dream. He joined the military in 1988.

“I went to the Marines, and they said, ‘No, your knees are bad.’ I went next door to the Army, and they said, ‘We’ll take you,” Urquieta said.

And for the next 26 years he served our country with numerous combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He received two Bronze Stars and one with V for Valor, but he lost many friends along the way.

“Memories I have of my soldiers I can’t talk about without getting sentimental and emotional. Losing soldiers that never had an opportunity to live a life,” Urquieta said. “Between the ages of 18 to 24 who never got married and had kids, some never had girlfriends. This will be to honor them.”

Urquieta is among this year’s grand marshals for the Veterans Day parade. His cousin Daniel Ochoa nominated him, and he is honored.

“Big honor. At first I was like why?” Urquieta said. “But I thought about it, and said what a great way to represent the soldiers I’ve lost.”

The major retired last month after countless operations on his knees and shoulder due to shrapnel and a gunshot. He is ready to begin the second half of his life.

“(I’m) looking forward to being a better husband and person and contributing to the community that I live in,” Urquieta said.

His wife is extremely happy to have him home and will make sure he stays busy with chores around the home.

“I don’t know with my limited capabilities how much of honey do projects I’ll be able to do, but I’m trying to get them worked. It’s definitely a blessing to be with my son, who is 2,” Urquieta said.

“I’ve been with him for 63 days since he’s been alive. I’ve been in Missouri, and they’ve been in Arizona. My 6-year-old daughter is ecstatic.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(City of Tempe Photo)...
KTAR.com

Last repairs on US 60 water transmission line break to begin Oct. 2

The final repairs on the U.S. 60 water line will shut down a portion of the freeway for several weeks starting next month.
5 hours ago
(Photo by Matthew Williams-Ellis/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

New Goodyear short-term rental regulations to go into effect Jan. 1

The city of Goodyear has developed new regulations for short-term rental owners that will go into effect at the start of the new year. 
5 hours ago
Arizona lobbyist Gaelle Esposito is among those opposed to the state’s new ban on using materials...
Scianna Garcia | Cronkite News

Ban on sexually explicit materials in Arizona schools to go into effect

A new ban on books containing sexual content will make its way into Arizona public schools this week, leaving critics worried.
5 hours ago
(Attorney General Mark Brnovich's Office Photo)...
KTAR.com

Man sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine in Arizona

A man was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for his role in trafficking methamphetamine in Arizona, officials said. 
1 day ago
(Phoenix Police Department Photo)...
KTAR.com

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Sept. 23-25

Police find more fentanyl, Scottsdale tells HOAs they can't require overseeding and these Phoenix restaurants were highlighted this week.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)...
KTAR.com

Honduras man charged with high-speed flight from Arizona immigration checkpoint

An 18-year-old man from Honduras was charged with high-speed flight from an immigration checkpoint last week, authorities said. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Arizona soldier goes from the battlefield to Veteran’s Day parade