by PAT MURDOCK
Sometimes a trio is better than a solo – particularly when it comes to serving as grand marshal of the City of San Marcos’ 2008 Veterans Day Parade, to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8.
A community-wide call for nominations of local veterans for grand marshal honors resulted in the nomination of eight men with impressive military service records.
A five-member nonpartisan committee made the selection after reviewing the nominations. After a point system was applied to the committee’s rankings, three World War II veterans rose to the top.
Chosen to serve as grand marshals for the parade were U. S. Marine Corps veteran Elston S. Golson, U.S. Army veteran Bob J. Sappington and Navy veteran Charley Williams.
Although the World War II veterans received the most points, all eight nominees are so remarkable that the Veterans Day Committee hopes to involve all the nominees in the parade, says Parks and Recreation Department Recreation Manager Lisa Morris.
Rounding out the nominations are U. S. Air Force veterans Lt. Col. George F. Boemerman, Lt. Col. Robert L. “Bob” Dentino and Major Harry D. Stewart; Marine Corps veteran Daniel “Dan” West and U.S. Army veteran Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Garcia.
The eight men represent a combined total of more than 90 years of military service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, with other service assignments in Lebanon and Thailand. Awards they have received range from the Purple Heart to Commendation Medals and the Humanitarian Service Medal. All eight reside in San Marcos and have compiled impressive community service records here and in other cities where they resided since completing their military service.
Morris said the selection committee gave an edge to the World War II veterans because of both their service and their age.
One of the three grand marshal designees – 83-year-old Charley Williams, who served from April 1943 to October 1946, mostly in the Pacific theater on the USS Bosque, a heavy transport cruiser – may have to bear the “Honorary Grand Marshal” title. A fall from his chair a few weeks ago has led to a stay at St. David’s Rehabilitation Center in Austin. Although he hopes to get out any day now and ride in the parade, it all depends upon the progress of his recovery.
Bob Sappington, a self-described “dog face grunt,” proudly served in the infantry during his World War II stint in the U.S. Army after volunteering as soon as he graduated from Ponca City, Oklahoma, High School. A part of the 103rd infantry’s 40th Regiment, he served in France, southern Germany and Austria, earning the coveted Combat Infantryman’s badge and the European Theatre Campaign badge with two battle stars. Returning to the states after Japan surrendered, he served out his military service as a military policeman at a German POW camp in Oklahoma.
Elston Golson served in both World War II and the Korean War. His World War II assignments included the Philippines and China. After leaving the military, he dedicated his life to community service and education, promoting community interest in the values of health and sports for youth development through physical education, health, water safety and defensive driving as public school teacher and volunteer.
While the trio of grand marshals will lead the parade, right behind them will be other five nominees, riding a float that is being put together by Parks and Recreation Department.
“They each have such wonderful records and stories to tell about their dedicated service to this country. All need to be recognized and that’s what we want to do,” Morris said, adding, “We hope all the honorees will join representatives of our veterans service organizations when Mayor Susan Narvaiz presents the annual Veterans Day proclamation in Council Chambers at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3.”
For more information about the Veterans Day Parade and other Veterans Day activities, contact Morris at (512) 393-8400.