WWII D-Day Vets Named Grand Marshals

Utica Memorial Day Parade Is May 30

UTICA, NY, April 7, 2011 -- Utica Post 229, sponsor of the Memorial Day Parade, has named two World War II veterans as the grand marshals for this year's parade to be held Monday, May 30 in Utica.

"Representing 'The Greatest Generation' will be John Loperfido and Phil Capraro,"John Loperfido Parade Chair Paul Wojcik announced at the post's general membership meeting April 7.

Both men reside in Utica and are long-time members of Utica Post 229.

John Loperfido served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946. He was attached to the Amphibian 336th Engineer Combat Unit, spending time in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, and coming within 50 miles of Berlin by the end of the war. Loperfido was part of the landing forces that stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day. He earned the Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, European Theater Occupation Medal, and the French Croix De Guerre Medal.

Phil Capraro was drafted into the Army in 1943. After completing basic training he was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division. He was wounded during the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach as part of "OperationPhil Capraro Overlord." Later, while engaged at the Siegfried Line, Capraro was wounded for a second time, and was awarded two Bronze Stars for heroic action. On December 16, 1944 at the "Battle of the Bulge," Capraro was in charge of four machine gun placements when he was wounded for a third time. At the end of the war, he was part of the occupation forces. Capraro remained in the Army and was called up for the Korean War. He retired from the Army in 1975 after serving 32 years in many capacities. In addition to two Bronze Stars, he earned three Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Battle of the Bulge Commendation, WWII Victory Medal, and European Theater Operation Medal.

Wojcik also noted that organizers are looking to increase the size of this year's parade, which begins at 2 p.m. May 30 and is co-sponsored by the City of Utica.

Interested participants may contact Wojcik at 315-735-7938, or Committee Secretary-Treasurer Joe Fraccola at 315-794-5296. Interested parties may also contact them via email at parade@uticapost229.org.

In addition to numerous veterans groups and elected officials, Wojcik said, the parade typically features Utica Police and Fire Departments, New York State Police, Oneida County Sheriff's Department, several volunteer fire departments, Gold Star Mothers, Centro Bus, the Shriners’ Ziyara Zanies Motor Clowns, the Navy Jr. ROTC cadets from both Proctor and Notre Dame High Schools, POW/MIA floats, U.S. Army and National Guard contingents, Boy Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, La Banda Rosa, and school marching bands.

The parade's theme is: "Honoring Our Past to Ensure Our Future: A Grateful Nation Remembers."