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Teen Musicians to World War II Vets at Memorial Day Events around CNY

  Dozens of Memorial Day parades went on throughout Central New York yesterday.

The Memorial Day Parade in Camillus drew large crowds, including the West Genesee High School Marching Band.  

But the event was not all hot dogs and apple pie. Gulf War Air Force Veteran Eric Coburn remembered a friend who did not die in action overseas, but more recently.

 “I came up from Pennsylvania to see a friend. We were extremely close. We were in the service. We stayed in contact for several years. I found his obituary online and I had to come up and pay respects. Just because you don’t fall in battle doesn’t mean the war doesn’t get you”          

Coburn says more needs to be done to help military veterans when they come home, so they don’t become casualties to remember Memorial Day. Coburn says his friend was gone too soon.

“I’m 45 soon to be 46. I already know my life is going to be cut short because of the gulf. His was cut prematurely short because of it. Paying respect to him, how do you not do it”             

Gulf War Vet Eric Coburn met with family members of one of his military mates, who died recently.

Missing at this year’s parade in Camillus was Korean War Veteran Donald ‘Smitty’ Smith and his green convertible. Smith used to drive Gold Star Parents who lost sons and daughters overseas during the parade. His son Eric spoke at a ceremony after the march.

“His time, his attention and his love, he hit the ball out of the park when it came to those three areas. Thank you for remembering him today, may god bless you all”                         

Ralph and Margaret Sims, both of whom served in World War II were also at the ceremony.  Ralph Sims is an Army Veteran, while Margaret served in the Woman’s Army Air Corps.  They’ve been married for 72 years. Retired Navy Commander John Trombetta spoke about their heroism.

“It’s just amazing how some people are so able to give that kind of service to this nation. You just have to be proud. It’s a pleasure and an honor knowing these people”        

Rear Admiral John F. Paddock Junior also spoke at the ceremony. 

Rear Admiral Paddock reminds people of what the holiday means, especially from the perspective of one who served.

The Camillus Memorial Day Parade will be 70 years old next year. 

Elsewhere, rain held off to allow a sizeable crowd to enjoy Fayetteville's annual procession.  Music was a highlight, with the Syracuse Scottish Pipe Band and the Fayetteville Manlius High School marching Band.

Over in Chittenango, events were held in churches, veterans' facilities, all punctuated by a military jet fly-over.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.