By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War this year, Gloucester’s Memorial Day parade will include an extra stop for a wreath laying at a monument that stands as a joint Korean War and Vietnam War memorial at Gloucester High School.
The new stop during Monday’s parade will encourage observers to honor those who fought in the Korean War between June 1950 and July 1953, including six Gloucester men who perished in that war, according to Director of the Office of Veteran Services Richard E. Barbato.
“Since the focus this past Veterans Day was the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, this Memorial Day we’ll focus on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and the six Gloucester men who paid the ultimate price in defense of our nation,” Barbato said.
The six who died — Robert Lyman Bowers Jr., Joseph W. Briand, George A. Lane, Walter E. Manninen, Frederick E. Stanton, and Ralph Porter Bradley — are commemorated with a granite memorial on Stacy Boulevard near the bridge house.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk and two special guest speakers — South Korean Consul Khango Park and Gloucester Korean War veteran Mel Olson — will briefly exit the parade formation to lay the wreath on the Korean War memorial. The Coast Guard and other color guards will also leave the formation, escorting the trio, while other parade participants stay in parade formation.
Olson, a Gloucester High School graduate in 1947, enlisted in the Army a year after graduation along with his twin brother. He took basic training at Camp Brekenridge in Kentucky before shipping to Korea in September 1950 to provide close infantry support for the 1st Cavalry Division, 24th Infantry Divisions, the 2nd Infantry Division, and the Republic of Korea First Infantry Division.
He and his twin brother, assigned to the same unit, fought alongside each other in two major battles, the Pusan Perimeter and the Battle of Unsan. Olson earned medals and decorations including the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with six campaign stars, the United Nations Medal, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
Olson is the commander of American Legion Post #98 in Rockport and treasurer and secretary for the World War II Memorial Committee.
As Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, Park promotes the interests and rights of the Korean community in our region, urges economic cooperation between our region and Korea, and raises awareness about Korean culture. The consular also provides passport and visa services.
The stop is an addition to the traditional parade path, which will still include pause for the main ceremony at the World War II memorial at Kent Circle.
The parade forms at 8:45 a.m. at the high school and all veterans are encouraged to march, including those who show up even at the last minute. The Office of Veterans Services said members of various veterans organizations, including AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, will participate in the parade.
”All veterans are welcome to march — and can show up last minute to take part, as is their right to,” Barbato said.
The parade departs from Gloucester High School at 9 a.m. to arrive at the Korean War Memorial for a wreath memorial by 9:15 a.m. The parade will continue on to the World War II Memorial, arriving there by 9:30 a.m. then winding back to the high school grounds for an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Vietnam memorial and a luncheon immediately following at the Major Fred W. Ritvo Veterans Center on Emerson Avenue.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.