Korean War Air Force veteran Gerald Becker named Parade Grand Marshal
The community is invited to come and enjoy a colorful and patriotic display honoring our country’s veterans and active duty military in downtown Apache Junction.
The All American Veterans Day Parade is coordinated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7968 and will be held on Sunday, November 11 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Gerald “Jerry” Becker, 84, a Korean War Air Force veteran, has been named the grand marshal of the parade.
Mr. Becker enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 17 and was promoted to PFC in 1951 on his completion of basic training at Sheppard AFB in Wichita County, Texas. He was soon reassigned to the 3419th Student Squadron for primary weapons training at Lowry AFB in Colorado, then to Camp Stoneman in California, before shipping overseas. Mr. Becker was eventually assigned to the 24th Air Wing Supply Squadron at Clark AFB in the Philippines, where he helped provide munitions to frontline air bases. All of this was accomplished before he turned 18.
In October of 1952, Mr. Becker was assigned to the 547th Ammunition and Supply Squadron in Ulsan, Korea, where he spent the rest of his deployment providing munitions and ordinance to the 5th Air Force in the Pacific.
Mr. Becker was witness to the sabotage and destruction of the rail line and munitions depot his unit supported and described the incident as the worst he has ever experienced. He returned to the States in 1953 and served the remainder of his time in the Air Force with the 320th Armament & Electronics Squadron under the Strategic Air Command. Mr. Becker worked on converting RB-47 Stratojets to atomic bomb capability.
Jerry Becker married Laura Mae just before the completion of his service in 1955. They settled in Redondo Beach, California, where he owned a print shop. The couple raised four sons before moving their business to Mesa in 1991. The Beckers have been married 63 years and still reside in Mesa.
As appropriate for an Air Force Grand Marshal, there will be a flyover during the morning. Last year, attendees were treated to several warbirds buzzing the downtown streets.
The Apache Junction All-American Veterans Parade will begin with the National Anthem, performed by the award-winning Apache Junction High School Marching Prospectors Band. Superstition Fire and Medical district will lead the parade with one of their ladder trucks. Parade route begins at Phelps Dr., heading west on Apache Trail, turning south onto Gold Dr. then east onto Apache Trail ending at Phelps Dr.
If there are any groups or businesses who would like to submit an entry into the parade, the committee will be accepting entry forms until Nov 8. Forms may be picked up at the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, Elks Lodge #2349, American Legion Post 27, VFW 7968, VFW 9399 or downloaded from our Facebook page. For questions or concerns, email AJVDParade@aol.com, or call 480-393-6341.
After the parade, everyone is welcome to meet the Grand Marshal at the American Legion Post 27, 1018 S. Meridian Rd., Apache Junction, AZ. Beverages and food will be available.
Photo above: Attendees will be treated to the award-winning JROTC Color Guard. Photo by Jack Olson