The 34th Annual Bronx Veterans Day Parade in Throggs Neck promises to be a fitting salute to veterans across our borough.
The parade kicks off at noon on Sunday, November 18 at Lafayette and East Tremont avenues and marches via Randall Avenue to Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park, where there will be a reviewing stand and tribute to honor all those who served their country.
The grand marshal for the parade is Country Club’s Robert Doonan, a retired U.S. Army Captain who was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War with the 101st Aviation Battalion.
Later, Doonan taught math at his alma matter Cardinal Spellman High School for 22 years.
Doonan is the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with V (Valor), Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, as well as Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action ribbons.
Doonan credits his upbringing in the borough and a number of jobs he had as a teenager with his establishing a track record of success and a strong work ethic that he built on during his time in the service and afterwards.
“I totally enjoyed the service,” he said, adding that he would recommend a tour of duty in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Services to a young person who isn’t sure of what he or she wants to do with their life.
“You met people from all over the country, and you cannot get that experience anywhere else,” said Doonan, adding that the interactions with people from different parts of the country broadened his outlook.
During his year of military service he resupplied troops by Huey helicopter who were actively engaging the enemy.
On one occasion he risked his life to save a solider who needed immediate medical attention during a battle near Landing Zone Vagel, the A Sau Valley and Hue in Vietnam in a low visibility situation where he used an improvised maneuver to reach the wounded solider.
For this effort, where he had to rely on his memory of the valley because of heavy cloud cover, he earned the Air Medal with a V.
Doonan said that many Vietnam veterans did not come home to a fitting welcome, so that parades like the veterans parade on the 18th in Throggs Neck are especially important.
Carolyn Engeldrum, chairperson of United Veterans Parade Committee of Greater NY Inc., which hosts the parade said that the committee would continue its ‘adopt a block’ program for schools from around Throggs Neck and neighboring communities that want to participate.
“Our goal with the parade in the past couple of years has been to include a little education and our youth,” said Engeldrum.
The parade will continue to highlight the issue of veteran suicide with a procession of 22 folded flags at the start of the parade, symbolizing the roughly 22 past and present service members who take their own lives daily.
This years pre-parade breakfast for marchers will be sponsored by Councilman Mark Gjoanj, who picks it up from Senator Jeff Klein who hosted the event in previous years.
Gjonaj plans to keep the pre-parade breakfast tradition going to pay special tribute to veterans service, organizers said.