Four state residents have been named the Grand Marshals of the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade, including Marine veteran and Brookfield resident Michael Zacchea. The 13th annual event will be held on Sunday, November 4 in Hartford, stepping off at 12:30 p.m. near the State Capitol and proceeding through Downtown Hartford.
The parade will take place one full week before the nationwide observance of Veterans Day the following Sunday. It is one of the nation’s largest salutes to veterans and is the biggest veterans parade in all of New England.
U.S. veterans should register now to march or ride in the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade. Any Connecticut resident who is an active, retired or honorably discharged member of the U.S. Armed Forces, including commissioned officers, warrant officers and enlisted personnel of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves is welcome to participate. Parade organizers also seek veterans groups, patriotic commissions, local municipalities and marching bands and drill teams from colleges, high schools and middle schools, as well as pipe and drum and fife and drum corps from all over the state.
[To register to march in the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade or learn more about becoming a parade sponsor, visit http://www.ctveteransparade.org/ or call the Parade Info Phone at 860-986-7254.]
Lieutenant Colonel Zacchea will be the 2012 Parade Grand Marshal, joined by three Honorary Grand Marshals: Captain Dori Freer of Shelton, a veteran of the U.S. Navy; Flight Officer Connie Nappier, Jr. of New Britain, a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, and member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen; and Major Frank A. Tantillo of Tolland, an active member of the Connecticut Army National Guard.
Zacchea, a Purple Heart recipient who runs the University of Connecticut’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, recently was named the director of veterans outreach and support for UConn’s Graduate School of Business. He holds an MBA from UConn, coordinates programs to recruit and support veterans and help them with job placement, continuing education, career planning and other services.
Zacchea was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1990, and served in Somalia and Haiti before being deployed in 2004 as a Major to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. His team and the Iraqi army battalion it trained were involved in heavy combat numerous times. In one incident, Zacchea was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade and received shrapnel in his shoulder and a traumatic brain injury, which required him to undergo several years of rehabilitation.
His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award), the Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and many unit and campaign awards. Zacchea also received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s award as 2012 Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year for his work with the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.
The colorful Connecticut Veterans Parade honors the dedication and sacrifices of servicemen and women from all U.S. conflicts, and offers the state’s residents the opportunity to express their thanks. Special features will include a tolling of church bells and a 1:30 p.m. Moment of Silence when the parade pauses in observance of veterans who died while serving their country. A Wreath-Laying Ceremony to remember veterans will be held at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at 11:30 a.m., before the parade.
Parade organizers are seeking scores of volunteers to help with a variety of hands-on responsibilities, before and during the parade.
The 2012 parade will begin near the State Capitol at the intersection of Buckingham Street and Washington Street, and travel north up Trinity Street and through the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. Marchers will then make a right onto Pearl Street, then make a right onto Main Street where it will pass a reviewing stand at the corner of Main and Gold Streets across from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and finally will make a right onto Capitol Avenue where it will end at Hudson Street. The event is expected to last for two to two and a half hours.