Keeping with this year’s theme of honoring the sacrifice of Vietnam War veterans, organizers of the annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade have added five men who fought in the decade-long conflict to its slate of honorees at this May’s march.
Back in March, the organizers announced Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, would serve as the parade’s grand marshal. The committee will also honor:
- Developer Carl Mattone as its man of the year;
- Television chef Lydia Bastanich as its woman of the year; and
- Local veteran Jerry Villbig with its community service award.
As announced last week, John Rowan will serve as honorary grand marshal of the parade. A Queens resident, he is a founding member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 and a five-term president of the national Vietnam Veterans of America.
During the conflict, Rowan served with the Air Force as a linguist with the Strategic Air Command, gathering intelligence on North Vietnamese missile defenses.
Four other local Vietnam veterans were tapped as parade marshals: Joseph Graham an active member of numerous veterans groups including the American Legion Edward McKee Post 131 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4787, both in Whitestone; Pat Gualtieri of Queens, executive producer of the United War Veterans Council and an active member of the Samaritan Village Veterans Program; Robert McGarry of Little Neck, an active member of the Little Neck-American Legion Post 103; and Richard Weinberg of Hollis Hills Terrace, a longtime member and treasurer of American Legion Post 103.
Also named as a parade marshal was Korean War veteran Sebastian D’Agostino of Bayside Hills, who– in addition to his activities at American Legion Post 103– serves as caretaker of the World War II Memorial on Bell Boulevard in Bayside Hills.
Finally, the committee will induct the late Pat Toro, former president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32, into its Legion of the Fallen during an interfaith service prior to the May 25 parade. Toro died last July of blood cancer.
Click here for more information about the parade.