Military Services Will Foot the Bill for 4th of July Displays, Pentagon Says

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Sailors enjoy fireworks during the 42nd annual Yokosuka Friendship Day celebration onboard U.S. Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy/Garrett Zopfi)
Sailors enjoy fireworks during the 42nd annual Yokosuka Friendship Day celebration onboard U.S. Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy/Garrett Zopfi)

Nearly a dozen Defense Department officials will attend the July 4th celebration on the National Mall Thursday.

The department on Wednesday said that Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper will participate in the event, called "Salute to America," alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford.

Other officials expected to participate:

  • James McPherson, Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of the Army
  • Lt. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, Incoming Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
  • Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy
  • Adm. Rober Burke, Vice Chief of Naval Operations
  • Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, Deputy Commandant of Marine Corps Combat Development Command
  • Matthew Donovan, Acting Secretary of the Air Force
  • Gen. Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force
  • Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Army National Guard director
  • Adm. Karl Schultz, Coast Guard Commandant

A Defense Department spokesman, Tom Crosson, told Military.com that each of the services that are contributing to the parade will cover the cost of their own equipment and participation, including aircraft fuel and flight expenses. The final amount will be tallied after the event, he said.

Pentagon officials said the White House has provided 5,000 tickets for DoD service members to attend the celebration. The White House intends to make 15,000 general admission tickets available to the public, as well as 500 "VIP tickets," officials involved in the event told CNN.

Related: Here Are All the Military Planes Flying at Trump's 4th of July Military Parade

The National Park Service told the Washington Post it has diverted roughly $2.5 million in fees to spend on the basics of the event. That does not include the aerial flyovers nor the military equipment that will be on display or otherwise participating in the event.

An comparable event last occurred during President George H. W. Bush's tenure.

Dozens of aircraft and an array of military equipment rolled through the streets of D.C. -- and more planes flew overhead -- to celebrate the U.S. victory in the first Gulf War in June 1991. Papers at the time reported the event cost between $8 and $12 million, the equivalent of $15 to $22 million in 2019 dollars.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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