Center of CT

Grand Marshals Announced for Connecticut Veterans Parade

Musical Units, Sponsors & Volunteers Sought for Sunday, November 4th Event

MEDIA CONTACT: Laura Soll, Parade Communications Director, 860-688-4499, cell 860-833-4466,

HARTFORD, CONN., September 27, 2012– Four state residents have been named the Grand Marshals of the 2012 “Connecticut Veterans Parade”. The 13th annual event will be held on Sunday, November 4 in Hartford, Conn., stepping off at 12:30 p.m. near the Connecticut State Capitol and proceeding through Downtown Hartford. The parade will take place one full week before the nationwide observance of Veterans Day the following Sunday. It is one of the nation’s largest salutes to veterans and is the biggest veterans parade in all of New England.

U.S. veterans should register now to march or ride in the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade. Any Connecticut resident who is an active, retired or honorably discharged member of the U.S. Armed Forces including commissioned officers, warrant officers and enlisted personnel of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves is welcome to participate. Parade organizers also seek veterans groups, patriotic commissions, local municipalities, and marching bands and drill teams from colleges, high schools and middle schools, as well as pipe & drum and fife & drum corps from all over the state. To register to march in the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade or learn more about becoming a parade sponsor, visit or call the Parade Info Phone at 860-986-7254.

The 2012 Parade Grand Marshal is Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea of Brookfield, a veteran of the U.S. Marines. There are three (3) Honorary Grand Marshals: ·Captain Dori Freer of Shelton, a veteran of the U.S. Navy; ·Flight Officer Connie Nappier, Jr. of New Britain, a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, and member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen; and ·Major Frank A. Tantillo of Tolland, an active member of the Connecticut Army National Guard.

Parade Grand Marshal: Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea of Brookfield (U.S. Marines), a Purple Heart recipient who runs the University of Connecticut’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, recently was named the director of veterans’ outreach and support for UConn’s Graduate School of Business. Zacchea, who holds an MBA from UConn, coordinates programs to recruit and support veterans and help them with job placement, continuing education, career planning, and other services. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1990, and served in Somalia and Haiti before being deployed in 2004 as a Major to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. His team, and the Iraqi army battalion it trained, were involved in heavy combat numerous times. In one incident, Zacchea was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade and received shrapnel in his shoulder and a traumatic brain injury, which required him to undergo several years of rehabilitation. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award), the Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and many unit and campaign awards. Zacchea also received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s award as 2012 Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year for his work with the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.

Hon. Grand Marshal: Captain Dori Freer of Shelton (U.S. Navy), a helicopter pilot during her 26-year military career, attended the U.S. Naval Academy in its third class with women. The Glastonbury native flew search and rescue flights off the carrier USS Lexington and out of Jacksonville, Fla. – including the 1986 explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger. With a Masters degree in Electronics Engineering, Freer was transferred to Japan as Director of Operations (and later Commanding Officer) at a unit overseeing foreign contractors performing overhaul and repair of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. She commanded the Defense Contract Management Agency at Sikorsky Aircraft and flew acceptance test flights for the U.S. military and foreign allies. In her last Navy assignment, she oversaw the development of the next generation catapults for new aircraft carriers. Upon retirement from the Navy, Freer joined Sikorsky Aircraft as the Black Hawk program manager, supporting the aircraft after production, worked as the company’s VH-60N Executive Transport program manager, and currently is Senior Program Manager, overseeing its HH-60 MEDEVAC product line.

Hon. Grand Marshal: Flight Officer Connie Nappier, Jr. of New Britain (Tuskegee Airmen, U.S. Army Air Corps), dreamed of being a pilot since childhood and during his years at Hartford’s Weaver High School. He is believed to be the last of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen still living in Connecticut. He and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted during World War II to become America's first black military airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were forced to operate as segregated units and were not allowed to train or fight alongside their white fellow countrymen. They proved themselves to be world-class pilots and, to identify themselves, painted the tails of their aircraft red, becoming known as the "Red Tails". After the war, Nappier returned to Hartford to become an architect. He continues to represent his fellow Tuskegee Airmen, most of them now departed, to recount their historic story.

Hon. Grand Marshal: Major Frank A. Tantillo of Tolland (Connecticut Army National Guard), an active member of the CNG, served two tours in Afghanistan and before, in-between and after his deployments, worked to receive his law degree at Quinnipiac University. During his 2006 tour in Afghanistan, he was Civil Military Operations Officer in charge of infrastructure rebuilds, education programs for children, and medical programs for the communities. In 2009, he was Company Commander responsible for maintaining flow of one of the busiest border checkpoints between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was awarded a Bronze Star for each of his tours. Currently, Major Tantillo is the Operations officer for the 1-102D IN Battalion CTARNG, and is responsible for the training and operations for the 812-soldier Battalion. He also is an elected member of the Town of Tolland’s Board of Education.

The colorful Connecticut Veterans Parade honors the dedication and sacrifices of servicemen and women from all U.S. conflicts, and offers the state’s residents the opportunity to express their thanks. Special features will include a tolling of church bells and a 1:30 p.m. Moment of Silence when the parade pauses in observance of veterans who died while serving their country. A Wreath-Laying Ceremony to remember veterans will be held at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at 11:30 a.m., before the parade.

Sponsorship dollars are needed to help to pay for the operations of the parade, which is organized by a nonprofit collaboration of veterans’ groups, corporations, local municipalities, businesses and civic organizations. The Connecticut National Guard assists with the management of parade logistics, and the City of Hartford hosts the event. Many of the members of the Parade Planning Committee have been involved in the parade since its inception more than a decade ago. Sponsors can include corporations, organizations, and individual residents who wish to make a contribution to the effort.

Financial contributions to support the parade can be made on-line at OR checks may be written to “Connecticut Veterans Fund” and mailed to: Connecticut Veterans Fund 1245 Farmington Avenue #338 West Hartford, CT 06107

Parade organizers are seeking scores of volunteers to help with a variety of hands-on responsibilities, before and during the parade.

The 2012 parade will begin near the Connecticut State Capitol at the intersection of Buckingham St. and Washington St., and travel north up Trinity Street and through the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. Marchers will then make a right onto Pearl Street, then make a right onto Main Street where it will pass a reviewing stand at the corner of Main & Gold Streets across from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and finally will make a right onto Capitol Avenue where it will end at Hudson Street. The event is expected to last for 2 to 2½ hours.

To register to march or volunteer in the 2012 Connecticut Veterans Parade or learn more about becoming a parade sponsor, visit or call the Parade Info Phone at 860-986-7254. Facebook: Connecticut Veterans Parade, and Twitter: CTVetsParade

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