MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 4, 2012

Parade marshal fought in two wars

Marine was in Korea at age 17

— All veterans will be honored at Saturday’s Muskogee Veterans Parade, but one Grand Marshal and about a dozen nominees will be special guests.

Gunnery Sgt. Harold Hooper (Ret.) of Muskogee will be honored as this year’s grand marshal in the parade, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Hooper is the recipient of five Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star.

“But I’d give them all back to bring back just one of the men we lost,” he said.

Hooper was born and raised in Muskogee. He joined the Marines in 1952 and served in Korea and Vietnam. He was a prisoner of war from Feb. 7 to March 18, 1953, in Korea.

Hooper said he’s greatly honored to be this year’s grand marshal — and added that he was born in Muskogee but truly raised in the military.

“I joined at 17, went to Korea,” he said. “When they realized my age, they sent me back home to turn 18 — and I’d already fought half a war for them.”

This year’s parade features the theme “From Here to Tripoli — We Honor Our Veterans.”

The festivities begin with a special ceremony at 10 a.m. at Arrowhead Mall near the recruiter stations on the south side of the mall, said Joel Everett, special projects coordinator for Muskogee Parks and Recreation.

The special ceremony will last about 30 minutes, he said, and the parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Fourth and Denison streets.

Muskogee began having a Veterans Day parade in 2002 after decades without one. Saturday, all veterans will be special guests of honor and asked to line up at the beginning of the parade, Everett said.

All the motorcycle clubs will begin the event with a “pass and review” before the parade starts.

“It’s real dramatic,” Everett said. “We’ll have the national anthem and present the colors, then the motorcycle groups will start the parade.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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