The Nicholas P. Lesando Jr. American Legion Post 214 will resume the annual Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies on Monday, May 31.
The parade, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, will step off from Warwick Village Hall at 11 a.m. and proceed to Warwick Cemetery, St. Stephen Cemetery and Veterans Memorial Park in that order.
“I am pleased to announce,” said Post Commander Stan Martin, “that this year’s Grand Marshall is Tony Cosimano, a member of Post 214 and a veteran of the Viet Nam war who served our country with honor as a combat helicopter pilot in that dangerous conflict.”
Music first, then the sky
Cosimano, who now lives in Warwick with his wife, Peggy, was born and raised in Jamestown, New York. He originally planned on a career in music and while serving in the United States Military Academy Band at West Point joined a flying club at Stewart Air Force Base. That’s where he learned to fly fixed wing airplanes.
But he was fascinated with helicopters and applied and was accepted for the U.S. Army flight school.
After a series of required Army flight training in several types of military helicopters and experiencing one actual forced landing, the result of an engine fire and seizure, Cosimano, now a rated military helicopter pilot, left for his assignment in Viet Nam.
Combat pilot, 114th Aviation Battalion
Cosimano then served in the Mekong Delta as a Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO2) and UH-1B (Huey) combat pilot with the 114th Aviation Battalion. More than 3,200 Hueys were lost during the war.
His numerous experiences in Viet Nam included crashing inverted in water after his tail rotor came apart, landing in a rice paddy after an enemy round hit an engine oil line and, while on a routine patrol, alerting friendly and thankful Montagnards to the location of an enemy Howitzer being pulled by an elephant.
‘I am honored’
After discharge Cosimano continued his love for aviation with a series of extraordinary positions as a civilian helicopter pilot, a skill he still maintains, including but not limited to monitoring pipelines and events, ferrying celebrities and assisting police along with a partnership in a major charter service.
“I am honored,” said Cosimano, “to be the Grand Marshall of this year’s Memorial Day Parade.
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PIC – One photo of Tony Cosimano plus photo of a Grand Marshall ribbon. (both by Roger Gavan)
Tony Cosimano, a member of American Legion Post 214, who served in Viet Nam as a combat helicopter pilot, will be this year’s Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshall. Photo. by Roger Gavan