By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: Muskogee Veterans Parade.
WHEN: Pre-parade ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday at Arrowhead Mall. Parade begins at 11 a.m.
WHERE: The parade will begin at Fourth and Denison streets, move east to Second Street, south to Broadway, west to Sixth Street and then north on Sixth Street to end at Denison Street.
Veterans Parade lineup
1. Veteran and civilian motorcycle clubs tribute.
2. Donaghe/Elliot Post 56 American Legion.
3. Grand Marshal Marine Gunnery Sgt. Harold Hooper (Ret.).
4. Grand Marshal Honorees/Blue Star Mothers Chapter 12.
5. Muskogee Air Force Junior ROTC Honor Guard.
6. Pride of Muskogee High School Marching Band.
7. American Legion Post 15 Honor Guard.
8. Disabled American Veterans Volunteer Transportation Service.
9. Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 524.
10. Military Order of the Purple Hearts Chapter 641.
11. VFW Post 474.
12. American Legion Batfish Post 241.
13. Fleet Reserve Association.
14. Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center and VRO.
15. Muskogee County Transit and Chapter 3 Blue Star Mothers.
16. Workforce Oklahoma.
17. American Legion Auxiliary.
18. Brad Hammack Willys Jeeps.
19. Muskogee Bedouin Shrine Temple.
20. State Sen. Earl Garrison.
21. State Rep. Jerry McPeak.
22. State Rep. George Faught.
23. Muskogee County Commissioner District 3 Dexter Payne.
24. Muskogee County Treasurer Kelly Garrett.
25. Muskogee County Clerk Dianna Cope.
26. Muskogee Fire Department and Color Guard.
27. Good Shepherd Hospice.
28. Knight Riders Car Club.
29. Boy Scout Troop 608 and Cub Scout Pack 608.
30. Cub Scout Pack 623 and Girl Scout Troop 1006.
31. Porter Peach Queen Bethany Essary.
32. Ray Whitely 1939 Ford sedan.
33. American Red Cross.
34. Cruisin’ Angels Car Club.
35. Morgan Towing and Recovery.
36. Model T Ford Club of Tulsa.
37. Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service.