By Mark Hallum
The 91st Annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, the largest in the nation, will recognize two historic events in American military annals as it kicks off at Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard this year.
The procession will look back at 65 years since the Korean War ceasefire, as well as 50 years since the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War, when the 1968 Tet Offensive left 543 Americans killed in action and an additional 2,547 wounded, according to the Veterans of Foreign War.
The grand marshal for the 2018 parade will be Brigadier General William Seely from the U.S. Marine Corps. Seely rose through the ranks from platoon commander during deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, bears the weight of six soldiers lost under his command.
The Man of the Year will be City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) alongside Andrea Licari-LaGrassa as Woman of the Year for her civic activism through the Community Church of Douglaston.
“It’s time to recognize the contributions of all Americans who are veterans, not just those born here,” parade spokesman Victor Mimoni said, mentioning that Seely was born in what is now Ho Chi Minh City. “The freedom won at so high a cost is what makes America great, and Queens the most diverse place on earth.”
The Community Service Award will go to Linda Lee, executive director of the Korean Community Services, which recently acquired the former Bayside Jewish Center to use as its main facility. Lee, an Oakland Gardens resident, also serves on Community Board 11.
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Frederick Peter Crosby will be posthumously honored as a parade marshal for his service in Vietnam. Crosby served in the Light Photographic Squadron 63, piloting an unarmed RF-8A reconnaissance plane when he was shot down over Thanh Hoa Province.
Presumed dead by the Dept. of Defense, Crosby’s remains were not recovered until 2015, when a search led by his daughter found a lead in a local villager who witnessed the crash.
Crosby’s wedding ring and lighter were found on remains recovered from a pond and positive DNA evidence from his sister proved his identity.
The 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard will be represented by Col. Michael Bank Jr. as parade marshal, alongside Ted Han, who was born in South Korea in 1949 and served in the South Korean Navy during the Vietnam era.
He now writes a column called “Teddy’s New York News” for Chosun Ibo, a Korean paper published in Korean, English and Japanese.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall