A highly decorated Vietnam War veteran will be the grand marshal for the Veterans Day parade.

This year’s annual parade sponsored by the Parsons Chamber of Commerce will start at 9 a.m. Monday. The parade will begin on Central Avenue in front of the Elks Lodge, travel south on Central, east on Main Street, north on 17th Street, west on Washington Avenue and north on Central back to the Elks. Kindred Hospice will serve hot chocolate to parade goers.

Retired 1st Sgt. Henry A. Gatewood Jr. of Parsons will be featured as this year’s grand marshal.

Gatewood is a highly decorated veteran and has been devoted to the Parsons Brown-Bishop Post No. 704 of the Veterans for Foreign Wars for many years. Gatewood began his Army career in 1960. He served two tours in Germany and tours in Panama, Nicaragua, Korea and Vietnam with the Fourth Platoon, 919th Engineer Company, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment before retiring in 1985.

Gatewood had a very successful and highly decorated military career. He received the following awards: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster (meaning that he received the award multiple times), a Meritorious Service medal with oak leaf clusters, an Army Commendation medal with oak leaf clusters, the Arkansas Commendation medal, an Army achievement medal, a Good Conduct medal multiple times, a National Defense Service medal, a Korean Service medal, a Vietnam Service medal with three Bronze Stars, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional development ribbon 3rd Level, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Campaign medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, President Unit Citation, IMJIM Scout Badge, Jungle Expert Badge, Driver-Mechanic Badge and Expert/Sharp Shooter Badge Small Arms. 

Gatewood moved back to Parsons in 1999 and has been here ever since. He is a trustee of the Brown-Bishop post and third district commander in the Kansas VFW. In October 2017, he was inducted into the Kemper Military School and College Alumni Association Hall of Fame and in 2018 was named Labette Community College Distinguished Alumni.

Joining Gatewood in the grand marshal’s car is his wife of 44 years, Martha Gatewood.

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