World War II Navy veteran Bob Dietz was the grand marshal of the annual Camp Gordon Johnston Day Veterans Parade. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
| |

As Greatest Generation fades, Carrabelle remembers

Five-year-old Caleb Blevins pondered the question as he sat between his mom and dad on the back of their truck, awaiting the arrival of the 29th annual Camp Gordon Johnston Day Veterans Parade Saturday morning.

What is the purpose of the parade today? he was asked.

“To get candy!” he answered.

Mom Cheree, and dad, Wade, pastor of the Carrabelle Christian Center, both 30-somethings, laughed at his reply.

But as they say, out of the mouths of babes often come unvarnished truths.

“Everything soon will all be ‘in the memory of,’” said Wade. “You don’t meet (that generation) any more.”

Robert Dietz, 94, of Lanark Village, a veteran of the U.S. Navy during World War II, served as the parade’s grand marshal, but beyond him, there were few, if any, veterans of the “Greatest Generation” taking part in the parade.

At one time, veterans stationed at Carrabelle’s Camp Gordon Johnston, an 165,000-acre amphibious training base that rotated between 24,000 and 30,000 soldiers from 1942 through 1946, would hold reunions there every year. Over the last two decades, the reunions gradually faded away, and the weekend-long Camp Gordon Johnston Days event narrowed to a single parade.

The Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum continues to ramp up its exhibits to where it holds an impressive collection of memorabilia from that base and that war. Their collection of hardware from the war was on full display to the small crowd that gathered in downtown Carrabelle for the parade.

The parade is primarily a salute to all veterans now, and Saturday was no exception, as vets from Vietnam and later took part, along with a color guard from Franklin County High School’s Cadet Core, politicians of all stripes, motorcycle riders, Shriners, pageant queens, churches, the Nest after-school program and others interested in the commemoration.

Among those who took part were Sons Of Confederate Veterans Wakulla Guards Camp #742, dressed in the gray of the Confederacy and proudly waving the stars-and-bars. A handful of them fired their rifles at the newly expanded Veterans Memorial Park, in salute to the fallen from the branches of service honored there.

Following the parade about 60 or so motorcyclists took part in the fundraising Dice Run around the county. The museum was busy all day as well, showing off its many permanent World War II displays as well as the two special exhibits it has in March, honoring the country’s canine military veterans and illustrating the role of cartoonists in World War II.

Similar Posts

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.