Special guest makes appearance at Fenton's Independence Day para - WNEM TV 5

Special guest makes appearance at Fenton's Independence Day parade

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Lt. Jeff Neville (Source: WNEM) Lt. Jeff Neville (Source: WNEM)

All across the country Americans are celebrating their independence with cookouts, parades and spending time with loved ones.

One such gathering took place in the community of Fenton on Tuesday.

Ramiro and Peggy Villarreal met at Fenton's Independence Day parade in 1954.

"I was a majorette and that was my last, actually one of my last appearances," Peggy Villarreal said.

They married the following year and have been coming to the celebration ever since.

The Villarreals joined hundreds who snagged a prime spot on three miles of parade route.

It is one of the longest parades in Mid-Michigan and once it's over the party doesn't stop.

Fenton's Independence Day parade was particularly special this year for more than just the Villarreals. There was a special focus on first responders.

"It's not luck. It's definitely being blessed," Bishop airport Lt. Jeff Neville said.

Neville is the second in command at Flint's Bishop International Airport. He made a special appearance at the parade, pulling a float that honored fallen officers.

He was met with cheers and waves as he rolled along the parade route.

"It's unbelievable the support I've received from people from all parts of the country," Neville said.

He was attacked at the airport a few weeks ago and is recovering from stab wounds to his neck. It was Neville's first appearance since the attack.

He is just grateful to be alive this holiday.

"I'm excited to be here period. But I'm very excited to be here on Earth period," Neville said.

He said he couldn't have anticipated what happened that Wednesday morning.

"Not a sneak attack like that you know. I mean, who's got eyes in the back of their head," Neville said.

With dozens of stitches visible on the right side of his neck, Neville recalled being stabbed with a foot long knife.

"There was absolutely no warning. Whether that person yelled or not, I don't know. I know that he yelled during, but I never heard anything before," Neville said.

The FBI launched a terrorism investigation and charged Amor Ftouhi with the attack.

Neville said he is not focused on the person behind the act. He is grateful for the colleagues who saved his life.

"If Rich Krul, the maintenance man, hadn't been walking beside me I wouldn't be talking to you today. There's no doubt about it," Neville said.

He said the maintenance worker, who thus far has wanted to remain anonymous, was the first person to subdue Ftouhi.

"He locked him up so he couldn't stab anybody else," Neville said.

Neville said he intends to be present at the federal court hearing for Ftouhi, who is being detained until his trial.

Neville said he appreciates the well wishes from so many, but he wants to spread the love.

"Chief Miller, Lt. Dan Owen from the fire department. They were all right there and we all worked as a team and it was a team effort. It wasn't just me," Neville said.

He is already talking about going back to work once he is cleared to do so by his doctors. He joked about how well he has been taken care of by loved ones.

"You know, I'm not even going to be able to fit into my uniforms when I go back to work," Neville said.

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