A crowd of thousands will line the streets Saturday morning from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office to downtown Albany to watch the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi.
The 66th annual parade starts at 11 a.m., and this year honors women veterans as its grand marshals. Midweek rain showers are forecast to disappear and the temperature is expected to be around 56 degrees.
Leading the parade, which will feature hundreds of floats, will be grand marshal Elaine Abraham, who served as a seaman first class in the U.S. Navy during World War II. She was stationed at five bases during her service, including Tillamook and Seattle.
Patty Louisiana of the Veterans Commemorative Association, which organizes the parade and associated events, said all Rosie the Riveters will be honored as well.
“We are delighted to have our Rosie the Riveters join us this year,” Louisiana said. “These women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during World War II as widespread enlistment of men into military service left gaping holes in the industrial labor force. Saturday, we will honor our Rosies along with women veterans for their extraordinary efforts put forth during WWII.”
Other grand marshal honorees are:
• U.S. Navy Lt. Ida Stemple served at the naval hospital in San Diego, assisting injured servicemen returning home from Korea.
"My duties were to meet the hospital ships when they docked and help our boys once they arrived home,” Stemple told members of the veterans committee.
She has participated in past parades, Louisiana said. “But this year we wish to have her assist in representing all women who served during the Korean War."
Stemple recently returned from Washington, D.C., where she was honored to be on the Southern Oregon Honor Flight.
• Distinguished Veteran Margaret (Margo) Coleman served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952-55 during the Korean War.
• Kaitlyn Oare served in the Oregon Army National Guard from 2007 to 2015. Her duties included driving mine resistant ambush protected vehicles in Iraq while protecting convoys of private contractors as they moved from base to base.