Ozark Outdoors

Saturday’s Veterans Day Parade to include skydivers and honor World War II vets

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A skydiver displaying a huge American flag.

A skydiver displaying a huge American flag.

Springfield’s annual Veterans Day Parade, hosted by American Legion Post 639, will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday Nov. 7 in downtown Springfield. This year’s parade focuses on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and will honor World War II veterans.

Pre-parade activities will begin a little before 10 a.m. at the Springfield Exposition Center lot at 735 E. St. Louis Street as (weather depending) skydivers from Golden Wings Parachute Team Foundation parachute to the lot from 4,500 feet at approximately 9:50 a.m.

The first jumper will be Staff Sgt. Roger Wolf, who will fly a 30-foot POW/MIA flag. The second jumper, Lt. Col. Christopher J. Stark, founder and director of the Honor Flight of the Ozarks, Inc., will bring in 6 foot-by-10 foot flags of the Army, Marine Corp., Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The third jumper will be Sgt. Robert Fiesthamel, who will present the American flag. After the presentation of colors ceremony, Hillcrest High School and Missouri State University ROTC cadets will fire a cannon that will signal the start of the parade.

The parade will begin at Trafficway and North Sherman Parkway, proceed west on Trafficway/Water Street to Boonville Avenue, follow Boonville south to Park Central Square, travel around the Square south to McDaniel Street, travel east on McDaniel to South Kimbrough Avenue, north on Kimbrough to St. Louis Street, east on St. Louis Street to the parade’s conclusion at Sherman Parkway.

“We have been able to put together the most distinguished group of men and women who fought for us during World War II to participate in this year’s Veterans Day Parade,” said chairman Robert Crampton. “We will honor Robert Rosendahl, whose story about his ‘Boat of Hope,’ in his front yard was in the newspaper a few months ago and is a former Bataan Death March and POW survivor; Ralph Manley, a member of the 101st Airborne Division who jumped at Normandy on D-Day, and Jack Hamlin, who served with the U.S. Coast Guard during the D-Day landing. We are so honored to have these vets at the parade, as they are all in their 90s.”

World War II veterans Manley, Hamlin and Rosendahl will serve as the parade’s grand marshals, alongside Mayor Bob Stephens. Serving as deputy marshals are Dr. Thomas MacDonnell, a sharpshooter who served in the 1st Infantry Division and earned a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and five Bronze Combat Stars; E.E. “Gene” Gilbreath, who served alongside Manley with the 101st Airborne Division; Don Grisham, who served on Tinian Island during World War II; Dorothy M. Sauter and Betty Rinck.

Sauter, who served in the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, and Rinck who served as an Air Force staff sergeant, will ride in White Mustangs in the parade, while the other marshals and deputy marshals will view the parade from the south end of Jubilee Park from a viewing platform provided by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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