CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Women in the military is the theme of this year's Memorial Day observances in the city.
The grand marshal of the parade is Sharon McClain, who was a U.S. Army nurse during the Vietnam conflict. The guest speaker for ceremonies at Oakwood Cemetery will be Capt. Megan Feltz, a U.S. Army recruiting company commander.
Portage Trail in the area of State Road to Lillis Drive will be closed beginning at 7 a.m. and the entire parade route will shut down at 8:30. Scouts will collect canned goods and donations at 8:30 a.m. Items collected will be donated to the Freedom Home.
The parade will start at 9 a.m. During the parade, two F-16s from the 180th Fighter Wing will fly over.
The parade route is the same as last year: starting at Portage Trail and Lillis Drive in front of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, moving east to Fourth Street, left on Fourth street to Oakwood Cemetery. The reviewing stand will be at the Natatorium across from Cuyahoga Falls High School.
The ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery will start at 11 a.m.
The Poppy Princess for American Legion Post 281 is Ava Bowen. The Poppy Princess for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1062 is Tessa Berdis.
"It's an honor and privilege to be chosen the grand marshal of the parade," McClain said by phone, adding she was shocked and surprised when her husband told her the news one morning. "I cried and literally choked on my breakfast," she said with a laugh. "Every time I think about it, I'm a nervous wreck."
McClain said she believes her nomination for grand marshal indicates the parade organizers are aware of her work with veterans. "I joined the service so I could help others," she said. "I don't expect anything in return. That's what God wants me to do. He has blessed me in so many ways."
McClain was born and raised in Fitchburg, Mass., where she graduated from high school as well as nursing school. After enlisting in the U.S. Army, she served as a nurse at Walter Reed Medical Hospital during the Vietnam conflict. She also served at Valley Forge General Hospital and Fort Sam Houston Medical Center before honorable discharge from the military in 1971.
She met her husband, Mike, in 1970, at Valley Forge and they were married five months later, making their home in Cuyahoga Falls. They have been married 47 years. They have a son and a daughter and a grandson.
McClain retired from nursing in 1995, having worked in oncology through the Visiting Nurse Service of Akron. She then worked for Giant Eagle as a pharmacist assistant. After attending classes, she opened her own cake decorating business.
McClain has been a member of the FOP Auxiliary of Cuyahoga Falls for 46 years and served as the secretary for 30 years, vice president four years and president 10 years until it folded last year. She has been a life member of the VFW and American Legion for 46 years.
She is a dual member of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary of Post 281 in Cuyahoga Falls. She has held many offices and chairmanships in the unit. She is currently the adjutant for her post and first vice president for her Auxiliary, past chaplain and second vice president of the post.
She is also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Summit County Council Committee, SCC Women for Veterans, the Stand Down committee for homeless veterans, LaFemmes of Caban 10 and Hobo Club for the 40 and 8; sings in the Cuyahoga Falls Community Choir and attends Lighthouse Christian Fellowship.
Army captain will give keynote address
The guest speaker at the Oakwood Cemetery ceremony, Capt. Megan M. Feltz, is a graduate of Wright State University where she received a bachelor's degree in business management and an active duty Army commission from WSU ROTC in 2009. She also earned her Master of Arts in Management and Leadership from Liberty University in 2012.
"I am humbled that the American Legion Post 281 asked me if I could speak at the Memorial Day speaking engagement," Feltz said by email. Feltz said she is from Coldwater, which is on the western side of Ohio. She is currently a resident of Medina, where she also works.
"I am the Company Commander of the Army Medina Recruiting Company which covers portions of Ohio as far north as Lorain, Ohio, to as far south as Barberton, Ohio," she said. "I have a recruiting center in Cuyahoga Falls which is how American Legion Post 281 reached out to me for the speaking engagement."
Feltz's assignments have included maintenance platoon leader and battalion maintenance officer for Forward Support Company, 4-101 Aviation Battallion (Wings), 159 Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (air assault) and deployed to FOB Wolverine, Afghanistan from January 2011 to January 2012. After deploying she served as the Battalion S4 OIC for 563D Aviation Support Battalion, 159 CAB.
She deployed in December 2013 to Bagram Airfield serving as the BN S4 OIC and in May 2014 she became the company commander of Headquarters Support Company while deployed. After redeploying in September 2014 she continued to be the company commander for HSC and oversaw its inactivation until July 2015.
Feltz joined the Logistics Corps after graduating from the Logistics Captain's Career Course (LOG-C3) in 2016. In July of that same year she took command of Medina Recruiting Company, Cleveland Recruiting Battalion.
Her military education includes Reserve Officer Training Course, Basic Officer Leadership Course II, Ordinance Officer Basic Course, LOG-C3, Theater Sustainment Planners Course, Joint Logistics and the Recruiting Company Commander/First Sergeant Course.
Feltz has received a number of decorations including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Ladies Cemetery Association hosts open house on Memorial Day
The Ladies Cemetery Association of Cuyahoga Falls will host a Historical Chapel in Oakwood Cemetery Open House (featuring the newly restored "Rebekah" window, one of the 12 beautiful stained glass windows displayed) on Memorial Day, May 29 from 8 a.m. to noon, at 2420 Oakwood Drive. Everyone is welcome.
Calling all Tiger Band alumni
The Cuyahoga Falls High School Pride Alumni Marching Band is looking for alumni to join the band this year in the parade.
Practice for the parade will be at Cuyahoga Falls High School on May 28 at 1 p.m. in the band room. Instruments will be available as well. Parade line-up is at 8 a.m. between IHM and Portage Crossing on May 29.
Contact Mike Price for details at 330-603-8139 or visit pridealumni.org. While there, update your contact info. Upcoming events are: July 4 Parade in Stow and the band show on Aug. 15.