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106-year-old Navy vet named grand marshal of Indy Veterans Day parade

106-year-old WWII veteran named parade grand marshal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis organizes many of the ceremonies and events on the holiday throughout the Circle City. This year, the council chose 106-year-old World War II veteran Hellen Guthrie as grand marshal of its Veterans Day Parade.

A Spencer, Indiana native, Guthrie was working as a secretary in a law firm when she was recruited to join the Naval Reserve.

She was part of WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. There would be more than 100,000 WAVES like her. The program allowed women to serve in the military for the first time in something other than nursing.

Veterans Day Council President Dennis Wimer says Guthrie will be among many to be honored in Indianapolis this weekend.

“There are so many amazing stories of people (who) served whether it be World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield, Desert Storm…those individuals, not all come back,” Wimer said. “(We need to) talk about those sacrifices that they made. It’s important. If we don’t talk about it, we will forget it.”

Wimer first met Guthrie last year while the council was planning her 105th birthday party.

He learned about her service in the Navy, where she was a cryptographer and made several contributions to the country’s intelligence-gathering efforts.

Wimer says she was a natural choice as this year’s Veterans Day Parade Grand Marshal.

“She’s just an amazing woman who has some wonderful stories about what it really means to serve,” Wimer said. “The opportunity that she had to use her skills and talents and she picked her feet up out of Indiana and went to serve our nation during World War Two. (Now,) at 106 Just an amazing lady.”

The parade will feature more than 80 different veteran groups, first responders, and bands, all led by Grand Marshal Guthrie.

As a veteran himself, Wimer says events like these are important.

“Everything we have today, the freedoms we have, the ability to speak our mind, the ability to debate the ability, to discuss the ability, to walk around freely, is because of the veterans of our past.”

The two-day event starts Thursday evening. The Veterans Day Council will host an awards ceremony and banquet at 5 p.m. at the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis.

There a new documentary, “Hoosier Heroes of the Great War” will premiere. It tells the stories of several Hoosiers who served in World War I. Tickets are $10.

Friday’s events start with an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Indiana Memorial. The parade is set to start at noon.

Click here to view the parade route and find out more.