CUYAHOGA FALLS – The 87th annual Cuyahoga Falls Memorial Day Parade May 27 steps off at 9 a.m. with 80 to 90 units.

The ceremony that follows will feature a Korean War veteran who served in combat and rose to the rank of sergeant major during six years of service.

The parade begins on Monday at the corner of Portage Trail and Lillis Avenue, heads east on Portage Trail, travels down Fourth Street to Oakwood Drive and ends at Oakwood Cemetery, said Dave Sebastian, chairman of the parade committee.

Traffic to the area will be closed at 7 a.m. at the line-up area on Lillis Avenue and at 8 a.m. for the entire parade route, he said.

Before the parade begins, the Scouts BSA Troop 166 will collect non-perishable foods, personal items and cash donations for Freedom House in Kent, which assist veterans.

This year the theme is the Korean War and a "Challenge Coin" has been made for this occasion for the Gold Star mothers/families and veterans.

The Memorial Day parade is expected to have veterans groups from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and present day War on Terrorism as well as the USMC Color Guard from the 325th Weapons Co. from Canton, members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Korean War Chapter 138 veterans.

In addition, military vehicles, Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters and City Council members will participate.

Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, the Northeast Ohio Ladies Aside horse group, local community groups, and sporting teams will be in the parade as well as floats, classic cars and local businesses.

The Cuyahoga Falls High School Black Tiger Marching Band, Woodridge High School Marching Band, Cuyahoga Falls Alumni Band and new this year, the Walsh Jesuit High School Warrior Marching Band will perform, Sebastian said.

The Parade Grand Marshal will be Jerry White, Korean War veteran and life member of the American Legion Post 281 and his wife, Rita White.

The American Legion Post 281 Poppy Princesses will be Lucy Witsaman and Catherine Wade and the V.F.W. Poppy Princess will be Hailey Lawless.

The United States Air Force is scheduled to have a flyover during the parade, weather permitting.

Following the parade, a ceremony will take place in Oakwood Cemetery, 2420 Oakwood Drive, at approximately 11 a.m.

Korean War veteran Frank B. Thomas will be the guest speaker.

Thomas was drafted Dec. 2, 1952 into the U.S. Army and ordered to Korea June 1, 1953. While with the 45th Infantry Division, 279 Infantry Regiment, 2 Battalion, Company G, he was assigned to an infantry squad on the front lines. At one point, his unit received incoming fire for three days.

He spent six month on the front helping rebuild the main line of resistance bunkers and was then assigned to the Division Headquarters Co. of 45th Infantry Division on Jan. 1, 1954. Thomas was awarded the U.S. Army's Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service April 1, 1954 and was transferred to the 24th Infantry Division May 30.

He rose to the rank of sergeant first class and went home Oct. 10, 1954.

Thomas joined the U.S. Army Reserve, 354th Ordinance Battalion in Cincinnati in February 1955 and was senior non-commissioned officer for the 358th Ordinance Battalion from Jan. 1, 1955 through Dec. 31, 1958. He rose to the rank of sergeant major and was honorably discharged in January 1959.

A luncheon at both the American Legion and V.F.W. Is open to the public after the parade and ceremony activities beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the American Legion, 1601 Front Street and 1 p.m. at the V.F.W., 1581 Main Street.

Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or