Friday's Veterans Day parade in Las Vegas will be the last for a handful of Pearl Harbor survivors from the local Silver State chapter, who say they're getting too old for parades.
"We are down to four members, all with health problems. We are all in the high 80s and 90s and don't plan on any more parades after this," wrote Clifton E. Dohrmann, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Silver State Chapter No. 2, not counting himself.
In a letter to the Review-Journal announcing the group's dwindling numbers, Dohrmann, 89, said the survivors' national office will close in December, 70 years after Japanese warplanes swooped down on Dec. 7, 1941, and bombed U.S. ships and military installations on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.
Besides Dohrmann, a retired chief petty officer aviation mechanics mate who manned a .50-caliber machine gun at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station during the attack, the other active members of Chapter No. 2 are Joseph Honish, William Simshauser, Harold LaLone and Ira "Ike" Schab.
"We're all getting to the age now where participating in these events is a trying thing," said Schab, 91, a retired Navy petty officer first class. He was a musician in the admiral's band who was on board a destroyer tender and loaded ammunition during the attack.
Schab said he's "long since lost count" of how many parades he has been in -- at least 64, one a year since he got out of the service in 1947, "and many times two or three a year."
"I'm partially regretful and partially glad it's going to be over with," he said.
Pearl Harbor survivors who are not active in the chapter but live in the Las Vegas Valley include Richard Hackett, Walter Schildt, Ed Hall and Jack Leaming.
Leaming, 92, a retired Naval Air Corps aerial radioman and machine-gunner, responded to the attack with pilot Dale Hilton in a Douglas scout aircraft from the USS Enterprise.
Three months later, their dive bomber was shot down. They were captured by Japanese troops off Marcus Island and held in prisoner of war camps until they were liberated more than three years later.
Hall, 88, was an Army Air Corps private who drove the wounded to hospitals during the attack and helped recover dead personnel.
Asked about his parade plans, Hall said he won't be among the 134 entries in this year's parade.
"We're all getting old, and there's not many of us to participate," he said. "I think it's OK."
Like past years, this year's Veterans Day parade is expected to draw more than 40,000 spectators, making it one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the nation, said Bill Stojack, chairman of the parade committee.
The parade has attracted entries from California and Arizona, Stojack said.
The parade is sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1753, the city of Las Vegas and Clark County, with help from the American Legion and several veterans organizations and support groups.
It will kick off at 10 a.m. at Hoover Avenue and run along Fourth Street in the downtown area, north to Ogden Avenue.
Portions of the parade route at the viewing stand near Ogden Avenue and Fourth Street will close at 6 a.m. Friday. Other downtown streets will be closed from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday along the route.
Stojack said the Pearl Harbor survivors will be near the front of the parade.
Wounded troops from the Warrior Transition Program at Fort Irwin, Calif., will collectively serve as grand marshal behind the color guard.
Pat Boone, iconic pop singer and entertainer of the late-1950s and '60s, will lead off the parade by singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Then, in keeping with the Armistice Day roots of Veterans Day, at 11:11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, a B-1B Lancer bomber will fly over the parade route, Stojack said.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of what was called Armistice Day, primarily to honor World War I veterans on the anniversary of the armistice that ended the war in 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
An act of Congress on May 13, 1938, made Nov. 11 a legal holiday dedicated to world peace.
In 1954, after the Korean War, veterans service organizations persuaded Congress to amend the 1938 act by striking the word "Armistice" and inserting "Veterans" in its place to honor U.S. veterans of all wars.
For more information about the parade, call (702) 218-4321 or (702) 384-4161, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at email@example.com or 702-383-0308.