PHOENIX, AZ – This year’s Veterans Grand Marshals of the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, have earned some of our nation’s highest honors, including Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts and more. Selectees for 2018 are:
- WWII-Mike Rizzo (Scottsdale), U.S. Army – This Purple Heart recipient was close to not coming back from his service overseas five times, and the memories of those close calls remain vivid in his memory.
- Korean War-Francis Doherty (Scottsdale), U.S. Army – This machine gunner provided cover fire to ensure the rest of his division could get to safety during a 1951 battle; his efforts earned him a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
- Vietnam-Santo Graziano (Phoenix), U.S. Army – A Bronze Star recipient and the founder of the Food for the Poor Project here in the Valley, Graziano’s time in Vietnam taught him to appreciate even more the little things we often take for granted in the U.S.
- Cold War-Anthony Irby (El Mirage), U.S. Army – after joining during the Cold War, Irby participated in the campaigns for the Defense of Saudi Arabia, the Liberation of Kuwait, and in Iraq; personal battles with homelessness and PTSD didn’t stop him.
- Desert Storm-Gene Wood (Glendale), U.S. Army – Among his other military accomplishments, Wood fielded the Saudi Army’s first attack helicopter battalion; he has been awarded the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal, among others.
- Operation Iraqi Freedom-Abby Malchow (Scottsdale), U.S. Navy – Malchow, who is committed to and has advocated for veteran suicide prevention on Capitol Hill, led an all-male crew (including three Iraqis) while deployed to Iraq in 2006.
- Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)-Ian Parkinson (Scottsdale), U.S. Army – Despite losing both legs from an IED encounter while serving in Afghanistan, this 28-year-old Purple Heart recipient continues to serve and motivate others.
“This year’s parade has a significant impact on history as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I,” said Honoring Arizona’s President Aaron Dudney. “It’s quite an honor for our community to learn more about these veterans, the conflicts in which they served, and to do so this year as we tie to WW1 Commemorations around the globe,” he added.
This year’s Celebrity Grand Marshal is Loretta Swit, of M*A*S*H fame. As an animal lover, she will be walking the route with a goal of collecting $1 each from attendees to help bring more military canines home from overseas and ensure they are placed in good homes.
The Veterans Grand Marshals will participate in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade at 11 a.m. on Nov. 12 in Central Phoenix. The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade has been billed as one of the largest in spectator attendance across the country and is now in its 22nd year. The parade is presented by Honoring Arizona’s Veterans, a 501©3 non-profit whose mission is to honor and recognize those military service members who have served our country.