2017-05-25 / Front Page

Town will honor Americans who paid ultimate sacrifice

Memorial Day parade is downtown Monday

GAMBLE GAMBLE Townspeople will have the opportunity Monday to remember Americans who were called to fight for their nation and never returned home.

All veterans are invited to march in the Memorial Day parade, which is co-sponsored annually by the VFW Post 9447 and the Arnold-Zweir Post 22 of the American Legion. Residents who are active duty, along with reservists, National Guard troops and ROTC students, are welcome to join the procession. Dennis Webster, a Legionnaire and retired lieutenant colonel who served overseas during the Vietnam war, said civilian clothes and military uniforms are equally acceptable.

Civic organizations also are invited to march. Groups that did not participate last year should call Webster at 423-1808 to coordinate their position in the parade. If it rains, a ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. inside the recreation center on Conanicus Avenue.

Everybody marching should meet at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Watson and Lawn avenues. The procession steps-off from that intersection a half-hour later en route to Veterans Memorial Square at East Ferry. From Watson Avenue, the parade heads south on North Road to the Four Corners cemetery for a brief ceremony then continues east on Narragansett Avenue toward the bay.

Marching behind the color guard and veterans will be Boy Scouts, clergy, firefighters and town councilors. The community band will provide music and historical military vehicles will follow alongside. For the third consecutive year, the Ancient Order of Hibernians Pipes and Drums will march. Donned in saffron kilts and green Irish berets called caubeens, the Newport-based band marches in St. Patrick’s parades from Newport to Yonkers, N.Y.

When the procession arrives at East Ferry, post commanders will lay wreaths to honor the Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Former Marine Capt. Geoffrey Gamble will be the guest speaker. Born in Jamestown and now living in Rome, Gamble has practiced international law for 40 years. He currently serves as an ambassador to refugees and disaster victims for Pope Francis.

Although he left the island as a child, Gamble was born into a family with deep roots in town. He is a descendant of three of the original 1657 purchasers of Conanicut Island, Matthew West, Bartholomew West and Christopher Almy. Also, his brother and daughter both reside in Jamestown.

Gamble, who served in Vietnam as a forward air observer in the demilitarized zone, was honored with a Bronze Star and five Air Medals. He also is a two-time recipient of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

While living in Europe, Gamble researched Francis Zweir and Howard Arnold, the two Jamestown men killed in action during World War II. Gamble, who is a member of the legion post that’s named in their honor, will talk about them during the ceremony. He also will describe a Revolutionary War gift he is donating to the Jamestown Historical Society.

“Memorial Day is our community’s opportunity to spend an hour remembering those who sacrificed their lives in our nation’s wars,” Webster said. “We owe it to them not to forget.”

Flag duty needed

Volunteers are needed at 7 a.m. Monday to raise 100 American flags at Veterans Memorial Square at East Ferry. These flags, which will fly during the Memorial Day ceremony, once covered the caskets of Jamestown veterans. They have been donated by their families. Workers also are needed to take them down at 3 p.m.

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