The Tucson Rodeo Parade honored World War II vets this year by naming local vets as the grand marshals of the parade.
The 2020 Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee named 10 veterans with ties to Tucson, Arizona as the grand marshals of the parade. All 10 are expected to participate in the parade this year.
Here are their backstories according to Tucson.com
- Don Sloane — The New York City native enlisted at 18 in the Army and was deployed in Europe from 1945-1948. After the war, he moved to Tucson. He has been proprietor of the Miller Surplus store since 1956.
- Red Hollander — He was born in Pittsburgh and was drafted into the Navy at age 18. He served during WWII and after being discharged, moved to Tucson. He reenlisted in 1947 and served during the Korean War. After his final discharge in 1954, he was a postal worker until his retirement.
- Walter Ram — The Nogales native was a radio operator and gunner on a B-17 bomber. His squadron completed five bombing missions without incident, but on his sixth, his plane was shot down. He was captured and spent nearly two years as a prisoner of war before being liberated in May 1945. After the war, Ram ran a successful trucking company and a distributorship out of his hometown of Nogales until his retirement.
- Mike Lude — He served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific theater and after the war established himself as a college football coach, including at Colorado State University. He also was athletic director at Kent State University and the University of Washington. He retired to Tucson in 1995.
- Gwen Niemi — She served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during the war. After her service, she spent more than 25 years teaching at the University of Arizona and Tucson Unified School District.
- Gilbert (Rod) Rodriguez — The Tucson native served in the Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force in both WWII and the Korean War. He was an aircraft engineer mechanic at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for more than 30 years.
- Denzel Clouse — He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and deployed to Europe in November 1944. He earned a Bronze Star for his part in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he graduated from Indiana University and moved to Arizona, where he worked as an accountant at the Hayden Flour Mills and the U.S. Treasury Department for 18 years.
- Arnella Corragan — She was a member of the Cadet Nurse Corps program to help alleviate the nursing shortage that existed at the time. After the war, she graduated from the Lenox Hill Hospital School of Nursing and became a registered nurse. She retired to Tucson.
- Tom Rankin — He was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943 and flew 38 bombing missions over Germany as a radioman and top turret gunner in a B-24 Liberator. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals for his service. After the war, he earned his pilot’s license and enlisted in the Air Force in 1949, and served as a B-24 pilot in the Korean War, and flew three tours in Vietnam, flying C-130s. He retired in 1967 as a lieutenant colonel, received his master’s degree in education, and taught math at Pueblo High School for 10 years.
- Ken Eckle ─ Eckle is a horseman who has been a trail boss on many rides. He is also a silversmith, creating everything from rings to spurs.
The parade will take place on February 20th as part of the Tucson Rodeo.