Cronauer: It’s up to us to inform next generation about Vietnam

Photo courtesy of the city of Dearborn

Adrian Cronauer, the disc jockey portrayed by Robin Williams in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” will be the grand marshal for the Memorial Day parade May 30.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – A well-known voice from the Vietnam War is coming to commemorate its 50th anniversary as part of the city’s Memorial Day parade May 30.

Adrian Cronauer, a former military disc jockey and a U.S. Air Force sergeant, will serve as grand marshal for the parade.

“We wanted someone with ties to Vietnam,” said Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council Cmdr. Craig Tillman, a Vietnam veteran. “When he got over there, he changed the face of music. That helped get a lot of guys through the terrors of war.”

Cronauer, who famously was portrayed by Robin Williams in the 1987 movie “Good Morning, Vietnam,” said he was honored to participate in anything that helps put veterans from that war in a good light.

“When I’m talking to to veterans, it is important to stress that it it’s up to us to inform the next generation about what happened in Vietnam,” Cronauer said. “There have been false images presented by the media, and we need to counter that.”

In addition to speaking at the parade, the former DJ also will be invited to participate in the first Veterans Family Day on May 29. The picnic, which is open to veterans of all wars, will be held at Ford Field Park from 1 to 6 p.m.

Tillman said the parade will begin with a funeral procession for three veterans who were not buried due to a lack of resources. Last year was the first time that the cremated remains could be claimed by the DAWVC and given a military burial, including those of one man who served in World War I and went unclaimed for about 40 years.

“(He) could have been homeless, could have outlived the rest of his family,” Tillman said, “It’s sad that that happens in our country to our veterans.”

The parade will serve as a remembrance for those who fought in Vietnam, he said.

“We never really had a welcoming home,” Tillman said. “Everyone was pretty much against the war, and we got a very rude welcoming back. There were people that were spit upon, there were fights …

“On a flight back from New Jersey I was sitting next to a very attractive young lady. When I told her I was on my way home from serving in Vietnam, she quit talking to me.”

Included among the ceremonies will be a memorial honoring the 69 veterans from Dearborn who died in the war, as well as about 140 family members who will be in attendance from across the country.

The memorial is the result of research done by Edsel Ford High School teacher Lisa Lark. Her students began to ask her questions about the war, and prompting her to research in order to answer those questions. The more she uncovered, the more she wanted to include in the memorial.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, the school will honor the 23 alumni who died in Vietnam.

Memorial Day events honor Vietnam veterans
Tribute to 69 from Dearborn who died highlights state’s oldest parade

DEARBORN – The city’s 87th annual Memorial Day Parade, the oldest continuous parade in Michigan, presents a special tribute to those who served and died in the Vietnam War, in this 50th anniversary year of the conflict.

The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. May 30 and travels Michigan Avenue from Greenfield Road to Schaefer and includes 80 military and community groups, five flyovers, special guests and military vehicles.

The Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council, led by 2011 Commander Craig Tillman, organizes the parade with support from the city.

The parade follows a funeral procession beginning at 9:30 a.m. for three veterans who died without resources or family and whose remains have been left in Dearborn funeral homes.

After the parade, the traditional Remembrance Service will be at noon at the War Memorial on the grounds of City Hall.

Grand marshal is Adrian Cronauer, the military DJ whose life inspired the main character in the 1989 movie, “Good Morning Vietnam!” He will give a keynote address at the Remembrance Ceremony.

New this year will be a free, public exhibit outside of Ford World Headquarters from 1 to 4 p.m. of a Huey helicopter, Vietnam War memorabilia and vehicles and the Michigan Vietnam Remembrance Wall.

The parade also will pay tribute to the 69 men from Dearborn who died in Vietnam or in military service during that era. Military and community groups will march in honor of the men and carry posters with their photos and names.

The families of many of the Dearborn men who died in Vietnam will march or ride in the parade and will be given a place of honor in the audience. This project has been coordinated by Lisa Lark, a Dearborn teacher who is compiling the histories of the 69 men.

Special guests of the parade are: Marty Eddy, president of the Prisoner of War Committee of Michigan; Warren K. Diegel, Vietnam Veterans of Michigan, State Council president; Nancy Diegel, Vietnam Veterans Associates, State of Michigan president; and Adam Arbogast, spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization that founded the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., and is creating a companion Education Center.

The parade will have four flyovers in addition to the Huey: A-10 Warthogs, Coastguard Dolphin, T-6 Texans (flying the missing man formation) and a B25.

The parade and related events are made possible by contributors and supporters, including Ford Motor Co. and Dearborn Federal Savings Bank.

The nonprofit organization American Huey 369 out of Peru, Ind., is supplying the helicopter. The appearance of the Huey is fully paid for by the Foundation for American Veterans.

The appearance of the Michigan Vietnam Remembrance Wall is courtesy of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 73 from Holland, Mich.

More details of the parade can be found at Click on the U.S. flag in the right column.