A local Army veteran and a former major league baseball player and veteran will be serving as Grand Marshals in the 12th annual Claremore Veteran’s Day parade.
The day begins at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10 with a U.S. flag retirement ceremony at the flag poles at the Claremore Expo Center, and the parade begins at 11:11 a.m. in the Expo parking lot, and making its way east along Will Rogers Boulevard and ending at the First Baptist Church parking lot.
Grand Marshals this year will be C.J. Masters and Bobby Jones.
“What an honor it is to recognize these two heroes for their service to our nation,” said Ryan Payne of MMS-Payne Funeral Home and Cremation Service, which will serve as event sponsor.
Claremore native Masters is a Vietnam-era veteran, as well as having a 38-year U. S. Army career including Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired as a Lt. Colonel and served in many positions. For his service, Masters was awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Meritorious Service Medal and many citations.
In the years since his retirement, Masters has spent innumerable hours serving the needs of other returning veterans through the service office of the Rogers County Disabled American Veterans (DAV), where he has served as commander and service officer since 2011.
Masters is a himself a disabled veteran, and is a life member of the Disabled American Veterans as well as the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also serves on the Oklahoma Department of the DAV.
A graduate of Oklahoma Military Academy High School, Masters received a Business Management degree from Northeastern State University. He and his wife Sara live in Claremore.
Bobby Jones, a native of Maryland was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969. He served 14 months in Vietnam from December 1969 to February 1971. He was part of the American Division, third battalion, 82nd artillery, 196th Light Infantry brigade. Jones is deaf in his right ear as a result of being section chief in a 105 millimeter howitzer group. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.
Jones was first drafted by the Washington Senators major league baseball team. Following his military service in the Army, he played nine seasons as an outfielder in the major leagues for the Texas Rangers and the California Angels.
After retiring from baseball as a player, Jones managed in the Texas Ranger minor league system for 24 years. He is the winningest manager for both the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Drillers minor league teams. He also coached in the major league for the Rangers. Last season Jones retired after 50 years in professional baseball as a major league player, coach and minor league manager.
Jones currently lives in Broken Arrow with his wife, Deborah.
The Claremore Navy Jr. ROTC unit under the command of CHS senior naval science instructor, Murray Eastabrook will perform the flag retirement service.
Congressman, Mark Wayne Mullin, Claremore Mayor, Bill Flanagan, Claremore City Manager, Jim Thomas, State Senator Marty Quinn and State Representative Mark Lepak will be amongst those speaking at the service. The flag retirement ceremony is free and open to the public.
“The parade will be outstanding this year,” said Bill Ritchey, commander of the Claremore Hooper Memorial VFW. “We have 92 entries so far in the parade. It has grown each year. The folks in Claremore are proud of the job our veterans have done for our country.”
The parade line up will feature, five bands, entries from Rogers State University, Claremore High School, car clubs, VFW, DAV and American Legion, Tulsa radio and television personalities, Claremore Police and Fire, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Rogers Country Sheriff’s department, churches and Wal-Mart.
Following the parade, the Claremore American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars are hosting a free dinner for all veterans and their immediate family at the Claremore VFW, 1717 West DuPont Street. Lunch begins at 12:30 pm.