Sarge gets his wish with vets day parade

by: contributed graphic The Gresham Veterans Day parade route starts at East Hill Church and ends on Miller Avenue.

For the first time in years, possibly decades, Gresham will have a Veterans Day parade.

The parade is set for 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, beginning at East Hill Church, 701 N. Main Ave. The route winds through historic downtown Gresham heading south on Main, east on Northwest Fifth Street, south on Roberts Avenue, west on Second Street, north on Main and east on Fifth Street, ending at Miller Avenue.

Members of the Tualatin-based 671st Engineer Company will march, as will other groups, said Rebecca Miller of Sergeant McDowell's Military Relief of Oregon, which organized the parade.

The nonprofit organization is named after its founder, Gresham resident Anthony McDowell, 50, who was shot and killed by Gresham police at his home in January.

'Sarge,' as he was known by family and friends, was a 1979 graduate of Barlow High School and a sergeant with the Army Reserve. He had more than 20 years of military service, including active and reserve duty in the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Most recently, he served with the 671st Engineer Company, where he trained and mentored 54 soldiers in bridging and demolition.

McDowell was allegedly suicidal and armed with a gun when two officers fired on him. A grand jury did not charge the officers with any criminal wrongdoing.

The shooting shocked those in the community familiar with McDowell and his charity work, in part because McDowell reached out to other veterans in need through his charity.

Shortly before his death, McDowell appeared before the Gresham City Council asking for its support in launching a Veterans Day parade.

Now, his dream is about to become a reality.

'This parade will be to honor all vets,' Miller said. 'And because this was what McDowell wanted to have happen, we all felt it was very important to make sure his work continued.'

Val Shaull, a Vietnam veteran and commander of the Gresham United Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 180, was friends with McDowell.

'It would be a fitting tribute to him and all veterans,' he said.

Miller said this year's parade will be the first Veterans Day parade in more than 30 years.

She just hopes the event does McDowell proud.

'We are thrilled that many are so positive about having our own Veterans Day parade in Gresham,' she said. 'We all know that SSG Anthony McDowell will be looking down and seeing so many come out that he will be so proud. He will be in all our thoughts that day as we walk with the parade.'

Reporter Mara Stine can be reached at mstine@theout or by calling 503-492-5117.