Calling on the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” to bless veterans, families and service members, the chaplain to former U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus helped kick off Memorial Day in Utica during wreath-laying ceremonies at six monuments.
The chaplain, Army Col. (Ret) Gary Howard, drove up from Philadelphia to pray at Utica’s monuments and offer a blessing to the scores of people gathered to remember the fallen and deceased.
Col. Howard and his assistant, Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Morrell, were invited by Utica Post 229, which coordinated the day’s activities. The day culminated with a parade, co-sponsored with the City of Utica, featuring 33 floats and marching units.
The services took place at:
-- the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Oneida Square, where Navy Commander Robert Piper, Army Capt. Richard Redmond, and Marine Corps Sgt. Jerome McDaniel laid the wreath. The trio was also grand marshals for the parade.
-- the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Parkway, where City Court Judge Ralph Eannace and Gold Start Mother Mary Wheeler laid the wreath.
-- the POW-MIA Monument on the Parkway, where representatives of seven different veterans organizations took part in laying a wreath.
-- the World War I/World War II/Korean War Monument on the Parkway, where Post 229 Commander Anthony Palladino and Auxiliary President Theresa Jensen laid the wreath.
-- the Purple Heart Park in West Utica, where the wreath was laid by Vin Egrestis, representing the Marine Corps, Phil Capraro of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and one of the founders of the park, Shirley Scialdo.
-- the All Veterans Memorial at Utica’s Main Post Office on Pitcher Street, where the family of recently deceased Vietnam veteran and former Utica Post 229 Commander Ray Sinnott laid the wreath.
The parade had two other grand marshals – World War II veteran Kathleen Murphy Brooks and Korean War veteran Bonnie Mulvihill.