We are pleased to present the 2019 Grand Marshal of the East Valley Veterans Parade, Lieutenant Henry DuBay. Born in Massachusetts, raised in northern New York, Henry graduated from high school in 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor, and signed up for a new pilot training program.
DuBay trained at various bases, including Lawson Army Airfield, where he was trained in dropping paratroopers. Once the US entered the war, DuBay found himself in the European Theater. His first mission was flying supplies from Africa to Sicily in July 1943. During this time, 64 C-47s were shot down in a “friendly fire” incident over Gela, Sicily, costing more than 465 lives. The following months brought a variety of missions, eventually leading to the Normandy Invasion that began June 6, 1944 as part of Operation Overlord, now commonly referred to as D-Day. DuBay piloted a C-47 transport during the Normandy Invasion, the massive Allied invasion that opened western pressure on the German army and ultimately contributed to ending the war in Europe.
“He is my hero, as every soldier in World War II is. I have such admiration for these men who risked their lives for freedom,” said his daughter, Dr. Holly West of Gilbert. “My father tells stories of flying through air so thick with smoke that staying in formation was nearly impossible, because you couldn’t see the other planes 15 feet away. With one navigator for every eight planes, finding your target was your one consuming thought. There was no time to be afraid.”
“Henry DuBay certainly qualifies as a member of ‘The Greatest Generation’ and a true war hero, delivering troops, supplies and fuel, often behind enemy lines,” said Rick Hardina of Honor Flight Arizona.
During his 2 and a half years of active service, DuBay’s service included delivering supplies to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army and the Red Ball Express, dropping paratroopers, tugging gliders and, during the Battle of the Bulge, landing at night and in bitter cold with only the lights of runway jeeps to assist him. Completing his duty in September 1945 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, DuBay married, earned this architectural degree and went on to design international airports. He worked on the ICBM and the Apollo Project for NASA, which 50 years ago this July put Americans on the moon.
The 95-year-old Gilbert resident personifies the thousands of quiet everyday heroes that demonstrated courage, skill and resolve without regard for personal fame. His service in face of the threat of almost constant danger resulted in him receiving the Air Medal – the Armed Forces decoration created in 1942 awarded for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while in flight – and eight Bronze Stars
Our 2019 Army service representative is Chief Warrant Officer 3 Oliver Babbitts. Oliver entered the US Army at age 19 from Neenah, Wisconsin in 1942. Training at Fort Belvoir and Fort Swift, he studied engineering and became a part of the Army Corps of Engineers. At Camp Swift Texas, he was in a heavy pontoon bridge unit. He then went on to Western Maryland College where he studied engineering for 12 weeks and got his degree. Oliver went on to learn and develop an expertise in water purification and distillation, and served as a trainer in Hawaii on this subject matter, setting up units on North Shore.
It was this expertise in water purification and distillation that brought him to Iwo Jima, site of an epic military campaign between U.S. Marines and the Imperial Army of Japan. Located 750 miles off the coast of Japan, the island of Iwo Jima had three airfields that could serve as a staging facility for a potential invasion of mainland Japan. American forces invaded the island on February 19, 1945, and the ensuing Battle of Iwo Jima lasted for five weeks. In some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II the Iwo Jima battle caused more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead. This battle is oft identified by the iconic image of six US Marines raising the U.S. flag on top of Mount Suribachi. CWO Babbitts was station for 11 months on the island to support the Marines with water supply.
Oliver’s daughter notes that her father is her hero – putting up 35,000 Christmas lights every November, leading the Boy’s Brigade in Wisconsin for 35 years, married and baptized many, many folks including grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He enjoyed fishing and quilting for many years.
Serving as our 2019 Navy representative is Chief Radioman Frederick “Big Cat” Peterson. Born in Atlanta, GA, Frederick and this sister were orphaned at an early age. They spent several years in Ohio, where young Frederick learned to box. He was on his own from the age of 15 and enlisted in the US Navy in 1943 at the age of 17.
Serving for 22 years, his duties in the early years during World War II ranged from Mess Attendant, to truck driving, to stretcher-bearing in the evenings, as he retrieved bodies and transported the severely wounded. He worked in medical supply while on Guadalcanal, where he served food and drink to the doctors and their wounded patients. And he, too, was hospitalized for two months when he fell victim to Dengue Fever. He served on served a nearly a dozen different Naval ships in the Guadalcanal, New Caledonia, Bougainville, Leyte Gulf Philippines.
Post war he went to Norfolk, VA where he enrolled in Radioman school. This launched the remainder of his naval career focused on communications. He taught Radioman A and B School at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, California. He continued to teach communication, math and electronics after retirement from the Navy.
During his service, Martial Arts became a passion and Frederick has earned world-wide recognition for his skills and contribution to Martial arts in the United States. He was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame / Hall of Heroes in August, 2019 with the “Living Legend Award.” At 94, Frederick is the eldest living, active Grand Master in the U.S.A.
Joining us as the 2019 Marine Corps representative is Lieutenant Colonel Jeanne Ann Botwright. LtCol Botwright entered the U. S. Marine Corps in 1954 at Erie PA. She served as a Drill Instructor at Paris Island SC, and later worked in Communications at Cherry Point NC. In 1961 she attended Officer Candidate School in Quantico, and in 1962 served in Communications during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1966, she became the commanding officer of Women’s Company Camp Smith, Oahu, HA.
She was the first woman unit commander of Marine Reserve Fleet Marine Force. Her various assignments took her from Paris Island with many stops in her career, including Alabama, Hawaii, New Orleans and at Camp Pendleton as Adjutant of the 4th Marine Division.
Since retiring from the Corps in 1980, she has logged an extraordinary number of hours and travel miles in support of Veterans Administration Medical Centers in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Arizona. Jeanne is a recognized leader in development of Arizona policy and programs to effectively address acute issues affecting women veterans. Her efforts have resulted in marked improvement, particularly with respect to abating homelessness and delivery of quality, specialized medical care. She continues to be a major advocate for Mary Ellen’s Place, focused on providing transitional housing and associated services for women veterans of all eras.
Our 2019 Air Force Representative is Richard (Dick) Michaud. Dick joined the US Navy at the age of 18, serving in the Philippines and the Admiralty Islands during WWII. After the War he started college and rose to the highest ranking AFROTC cadet, graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate. Upon graduation he entered the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer in the 330th bomb squadron and soon thereafter completed the Air Force’s select “Top Gun” school.
Michaud had a variety of assignments in his 22 years in the Air Force, including three years in Germany where he flew air defense in the Hughes Trophy winner 496th FIS on the Russian border, serving as the base Public Information Officer, also serving as AFROTC instructor at the University of Utah, piloting an airborne radar station covering the west coast, Operations Officer at an Alaska radar station, and as AFROTC instructor at Arizona State University (ASU).
He was a Pilot and the Squadron Commander of the 602nd Search and Rescue Squadron in South Vietnam, flying 193 combat missions that helped rescue 76 of 78 downed pilots, earning him 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star and 14 Air Medals.
Upon his retirement from the US Air Force in 1972, he became the Director of Financial Aid at ASU and later Utah State. Dick has felt he is blessed with a special family: a great wife, four children, nineteen grandchildren, and sixty-five great grandchildren.
Joining us as the 2019 Coast Guard representative is Lieutenant Commander Scott K. Savela. Originally from Detroit MI, Scott enlisted into the US Air Force in 1987 and served for 10 years on active duty. LCDR Savela was commission in the United States Coast Guard Reserve in 2003.
LCDR Savela’s assignments have included: Antiterrorism Force Protection Officer deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Communications Department Head deployed to Pohang, Korea while assigned to U.S. Navy Coastal Riverine Squadron One; Government Affairs Officer deployed to Mobile AL while assigned to Sector Houston/Galveston, Texas Response Department. During his service in the US Air Force, he was assigned to bases in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, and Israel.
Among an extensive list of medals, Scott was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal W/Gold Star, an Air Force Commendation Medal and a Coast Guard Achievement Medal w/ 2 Gold Stars. In October 2015, LCDR Savela assumed the duties as Operations Officer for Port Security Unit 311, providing support of military and humanitarian operations worldwide, ready to deploy in 96 hours of notification. He recently returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Scott has a BS in Business and Management/Accounting from the University of Maryland, and works as a Supply Line Manager for Intel Corporation. He resides in Chandler with his wife, Lee Ann and is the proud father of Krista, Kevin, Lora, and Aubrey.