Two veterans of the United States armed forces will take lead roles in Tamaqua's Memorial Day parade and service.

Joe Vlcek has been named as grand marshal of Tamaqua's annual Memorial Day Parade, while Joel P. Perry will be the featured speaker for the service at Odd Fellows Cemetery.

The parade will be held rain or shine.

The parade will be held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31. The kickoff will be held at the Rahn Township Memorial on East Broad Street at 8:45 a.m., with the Color Guard of C.H. Berry Post 173 of the American Legion, Tamaqua, rendering honors.

The parade will form in the 700 block of East Broad Street to the former CVS building and commence at 9 a.m.

The Legion Post 173 Color Guard will lead the parade, followed by Grand Marshal Vlcek, Tamaqua Business and Professional Women's Club Young Woman of the Year Shauna Bannan, Tamaqua Poppy Queen Courtney Postupack, and the Reverend David W. Grant, who will serve as clergy for the cemetery service at Odd Fellows.

Also included in the line-up will be the Tamaqua Area High School Raider Band, the 18th North Carolina Reenactment Group, various Boy and Girl Scout units, the Tamaqua and Tuscarora Fire Companies, Tamaqua Ambulance and Rescue Squad, the Andreas VFW, Schuylkill County Marine Corps League Detachment 626, and members of Company V, 109th Armor, Pa. National Guard.

The parade will pause at the Tamaqua Area School District Adminstration building at 138 West Broad Street at approximately 9:15 a.m. to officially dedicate and raise the flags on the newly installed flagpoles.

The American flag at the Tamaqua American Legion Home is in memory of Past Legion member Henry Digirolamo, WWII Vet. The American flag flown at Tamaqua Borough Hall is in memory of past American Legion Auxiliary member and Tamaqua Meter Maid Rhea Schuetrumpf.

The American flag flown at the Odd Fellows Cemetery is in memory of Lyle E. Swanson, WWII Vet.

Various government officials will be raising the flags during the memorial and flag raising service in front of the school district building. Raising the American flag will be Tamaqua Mayor Chris Morrison and Arthur Oakes, Jr.

Raising the Pennsylvania State flag are Senator Dave Argall and Representative Jerry Knowles. A Tamaqua teacher and student will be raising the school district flag.

At the cemetery, there will be a release of biodegradable red, while and blue balloons during the reading of the deceased veterans. The release is being coordinated by Stephen Ulicny, advisor of the Tamaqua Area Student Government Association and TASGA members.

Immediately following the service, members of Odd Fellows Harmony Lodge will have hot dogs and drinks available in front of the Lodge Hall in the cemetery.

Anyone interested in joining the parade can do so by contacting Jon Zizelmann at (570) 668-0390.

Joe Vlcek

Vleck is the son of the late John and Marie Vlcek of Tuscarora. After his parents were deceased, he was raised from a baby by his godparents, John and Telka Hobrosky of South Tamaqua.

A member of the Tamaqua High School Class of 1943, he entered the Army at New Cumberland and went to Aberdeen, Maryland. He received training at A.P. Hill, Virginia, and was sent overseas in October, 1943 to Chelsea by the Sea in England.

He departed from Portsmith, England, for D-Day in Normady, France for the June 6, 1944 invasion. He served in Normandy, northern France, Belgium, Germany and as far as the Czech border.

He was awarded the MKM Caibine 43 Marksmanship badge, the Good Conduct medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign medal with five Bronze Stars and the World War II Victory medal.

He returned in Nov., 1945 and worked in heavy maintenance equipment and small arms repairs.

He is a member of Tamaqua American Legion Post 173, Andreas VFW Post 5069, the New England Fire Company (charter member), the American Hose Fire Company (over 50 years), Tamaqua Elks Lodge (life member of 51 years), Boy Scout Troop 76 (for 48 years) and now with Troop 777 (receiving his Silver Beaver award).

Through his scouting work he was responsible for seven relatives working and receiving their Eagle awards, including his son, Brian Vlcek, Tamaqua; and nephews William, Richard and Harold Brown, Hometown; Jon Kleckner, Allentown; Jason Kleckner, Emmaus; and Dr. Paul Vanek, formerly of Tuscarora.

Joe is married tro Emma Best Vlcek. Son Brian and his wife Bernice reside in New England Valley. They have two grandsons, Clinton and Todd Rupert, and one great granddaughter, Emma Rupert.

Joel P. Perry

Joel Paul Perry is a native of Lehighton and a 1988 graduate of Lehighton Area High School.

He joined the Pa. National Guard the day he turned 17. He was enrolled in split option training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After completing 11th grade he spent his summer vacation taking his basic training at Fort Benning, where he was a platoon guide and the Honor Graduate.

He then returned to Lehighton for his senior year, and after graduation, he returned to Fort Benning for his Advanced Individual Training as an infantryman. After graduating from AIT he returned to Lehighton and then attended one year of college at Lincoln Technical Institute in Allentown.

Perry decided to join the Army and was stationed at Fort Benning with the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry, 197th Infantry Brigade. He was sent to Airborn school and a multitude of other military schools.

He deployed with his company as a rapid deployment force to operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in August, 1991, and returned to the U.S. to finish out his four years in the regular Army.

He returned to the Pa. National Guard in Hometown, where he was a tank commander on the M1 A1 main battle tank. He retired from the Army in July, 2008, with 21 1/2 years of service.

Perry is now the First Vice Commander of Tamaqua American Legion Post 173.

Perry has two sons, Trenton Joel and Tanner Michael Perry from a previous marriage. He is now remarried and has been a service provider for UPS (package car provider) for the past 10 years.