After all, these gents are in their late 80s or early 90s, so why put it off?
The procession that begins at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 810 H St., and heads toward Front Street, will honor five WWII vets, as well as Del Norte’s senior-ranking member of the Hmong Army that fought Communist forces in the Vietnam era.
Coffee and cake will be provided by Edward Jones financial advisors, and a special Marine Corps birthday cake will be served at noon at the VFW Canteen inside Memorial Hall.
That will also be the site for a 6 p.m. chicken fried steak dinner. Vets and spouses get in free. Otherwise, admission costs $8.50 for adults, and $3.50 for children, with tickets sold at the door.
The dinner speaker will be Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, a combat Marine Corps veteran and a senior officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. His address will begin at 7 p.m.
Take Neil McKinnon and Warren Barnts. They both served in Europe aboard B17 bombers in the 303rd Bomb Group. McKinnon was a belly turret gunner for the 360th Bomb Squadron, Barnts a radio operator for the 359th Bomb Squadron.
They frequently flew on the same missions, McKinnon’s 360th taking off first followed by Barnts’ 359th. McKinnon flew 33 sorties, Barnts 31. They didn’t know each other, however, until Barnts moved to Crescent City after 1948.
Two other parade grand marshals, Les Manosar and Frank McNamara, were already friends when they went to war, and remain so to this day. At one point, they even served near each other in the Pacific.
Here’s another connection: The two turret gunners being honored Monday are Native Americans, McKinnon a Yurok and Richards a Tolowa.
The Hmong were allies of the U.S. in WWII, and during the Vietnam War they fought the Communist forces that invaded the Hmong homeland of Laos. When the war ended and Laos fell into Communist control, there was a mass immigration of Hmong to America. There is now a strong and proud Hmong community in Del Norte.