Events to mark Memorial Day

Korean War veteran Capt. Thomas Fitzgerald leads the first division up Church Street during Naugatuck’s Memorial Day parade last year. –FILE PHOTO

Naugatuck, Prospect and Beacon Falls will commemorate Memorial Day this weekend.

Naugatuck’s annual Memorial Day parade will step off, rain or shine, Monday at 9:15 a.m. on North Main Street. The parade heads downtown to Town Hall on Church Street for a ceremony.

Marching units will assemble at 8:45 a.m. on North Main Street, in the vicinity of Union and Woodbine streets.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole was chosen to be the grand marshal of this year’s parade. On Friday, parade organizers announced he won’t be able to attend due to an unanticipated circumstance.

Cole served as the co-pilot to Col. James Doolittle when Doolittle led the Raiders bombing attack on Tokyo on April 18, 1942.

Cole, now 101 years old, is the last surviving member of the original 80-man Doolittle Tokyo Raiders fight crew.

“He is a national hero who, with his fellow flyers, participated in one of the truly heroic acts of war-time bravery during the entire World War II. In fact, this bombing mission was the most daring, most courageous, air operation ever taken, in any war, by American military flyers,” a press release issued by the Naugatuck Veterans Council stated.

According to the council, it was this mission that began to turn the tide of the war in the favor of the Allied forces in the Pacific.

A highlight of the ceremony will be a fly-over of a World War II B-25 bomber, compliments of the New York-based Air Power Museum. The B-25 bomber was the model of plane that Cole and the Doolittle Raiders flew during the mission.

Following the parade there will be a ceremony on the Town Green. Cole will lay a wreath during the ceremony in honor of his fellow flyers.

Prospect’s annual Memorial Day parade will begin at 1 p.m. sharp on Monday on the Town Green on Center Street.

The parade heads past Town Hall on Route 69, turns onto Old Schoolhouse Road then onto Route 68. The parade then goes into Prospect Cemetery where American Legion Post 194 will hold a brief ceremony, including a wreath laying. The names of all the veterans who passed away this year will also be read.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said anybody who wants to participate in the parade needs be in front of the Grange on Center Street between 12:15 and 12:30 p.m.

He said Post 194 is looking for volunteers to help place flags and flowers at the graves of veterans in Prospect Cemetery on Saturday. Anyone who wants to help can show up at the cemetery, which is on Union City Road across from St. Anthony Church, at 9 a.m.

If it rains, Chatfield said, the ceremony will be moved indoors to St. Anthony Church, 4 Union City Road.

“I just want people to remember how many people are buried under white crosses or little stars of David around the world,” Chatfield said. “We still have men and women in harm’s way now.”

Beacon Falls will mark Memorial Day on Sunday.

American Legion Post 25 and Beacon Hose Company No. 1 will each host a ceremony.

Beacon Hose will conduct a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. outside of the firehouse along with representatives of the Post. All veterans are invited to attend.

Church services will be held at Beacon Falls Congregational at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. at St. Michael Church. Poppies will be handed out before each service.

Post 25 will host a ceremony at Veteran’s Park at 12:30 p.m. on North Main Street along with local and state dignitaries.