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Day Features Wreath-Laying, Lunch and Parade

Gen. Petraeus' Chaplain Helps Kick Off Memorial Day

MAY 31, 2010 -- Calling on the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” to bless veterans, their families and current service members, the chaplain to former U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus helped  kick off Memorial Day in Utica during morning wreath-laying ceremonies at six monuments to veterans.

The chaplain, Army Col. (Ret) Gary Howard, drove up from Philadelphia to pray at Utica’s monuments and offer a blessing to the scores of people gathered to remember the fallen and deceased.

Colonel Howard and his assistant, Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Morrell, were invited by the American Legion’s Utica Post 229, which coordinated the day’s activities. The day continued with lunch for veterans at the North Utica post and culminated in a 2 p.m. parade, co-sponsored with the City of Utica, where 33 floats and marching units made their way up Genesee Street to the Parkway.

The morning memorial services took place at:

  • the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Oneida Square, where Navy Commander Robert Piper, Army Capt. Richard Redmond, and Marine Corps Sgt. Jerome McDaniel laid the wreath. The trio was also the main grand marshals for the afternoon parade.

  • the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Parkway, where City Court Judge Ralph Eannace and Gold Start Mother Mary Wheeler, a former national Gold Star president, laid the wreath.

  • the POW-MIA Monument on the Parkway, where representatives of seven different veterans organizations took part in laying a wreath, led by Frank Cassella of Disabled American Veterans and John Ryan of Oneida County American Legion and 40&8.

  • the World War I/World War II/Korean War Monument on the Parkway, where Utica Post 229 Commander Anthony Palladino and Post 229 Auxiliary President Theresa Jensen laid the wreath.

  • the Purple Heart Park in West Utica, where the wreath was laid by Vin Egrestis, representing the Marine Corps, Purple Heart recipient Phil Capraro of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and one of the founders of the park, Shirley Scialdo.

  • the All Veterans Memorial at Utica’s Main Post Office on Pitcher Street, where the family of recently deceased Vietnam veteran and former Utica Post 229 Commander Ray Sinnott laid the wreath. The family included his wife, Carol, plus Ray Jr., Tammy, Gabrielle, Alexis and Sylvester. The Vietnam Veterans of America presented the family with a plaque honoring Sinnott’s service to fellow veterans.

Five members of the National Guard's 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry in Utica took turns pairing off as honor guards at each of the sites. They were: Capt. Rick Redmond, First Lt. Clint Davis, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Marshall, Staff Sgt. Rich Richardson, Sgt. Vincent Scalise.

The afternoon parade also had two women as additional grand marshals – World War II veteran Kathleen Murphy Brooks and Korean War veteran Bonnie Mulvihill. In addition to numerous veterans groups and elected officials, the parade featured area police and fire departments, the Shriners’ Ziyara Zanies Motor Clowns, the Navy Jr. ROTC cadets from both Proctor and Notre Dame High Schools, POW/MIA floats, and three marching bands – the Proctor Senior High School Marching Band, the Kennedy/Donovan Jr. High Marching Band, and La Banda Rosa.

The emcee at both the morning wreath-laying and afternoon parade reviewing stand was Carl Yeomans of AmVets. The parade committee, chaired by Post 229’s Paul Wojcik, includes Yeomans, Joe Fraccola of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, John Ryan of 40&8, John Driscoll of Post 229, Vin Zaleski of Post 229, Stanley Bogdan of PLAV Walter Skiba Post 20, Dan Pieloch of Post 229 and Skiba Post 20, Sean McGuirl of the VFW, and Dave Manore of Post 229 and DAV.

Photos of Ceremonies

Photos of Parade

Col. Gary Howard
Chaplain Gary Howard offers
prayers at the POW/MIA
Memorial on the Parkway.