U.S. Armed Forces Legacy Project dedication this weekend

TONASKET – Tonasket’s Armed Forces veterans and their supporters have created one of the state’s true crown jewels in its Legacy Project on the south end of the city.

The Legacy Project, which serves as both a memorial and a service center, will be formally dedicated this Saturday, May 18, with a parade and ceremony.

The day will include a parade through Tonasket starting at 11:00 a.m., followed by a ceremony at noon at the Legacy Park site that will include the presentation of colors, a flyover and air show, and a pair of special guest speakers.

“I’ts been a lot bigger than I ever thought it would be,” said George Frank, who along with Roger Castelda originated the project, beginning with a 99-year lease of the site from the city for $1.00. “It shows what people can do when they get together to work on something. The public’s support has been unbelievable. It hasn’t been a few people giving a lot; it’s been a whole lot of people giving some.”

The speakers include Captain Alan Walker of Curlew, who served 28 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, and Lt. Commander Allen Willey, at Tonasket High School graduate and current U.S. Navy civil engineer who has served 26 years of active duty.

“Captain Walker is a very impressive man,” Frank said. “And Lt. Cmdr. Willey, it took some doing, but he’s traveling all the way here just for this dedication.”

The parade route will begin heading north on Western Avenue, turn east in front of the North Valley Extended Care facility, then turn south on Whitcomb (U.S. 97) and proceed through town to the Legacy site, which boasts a freshly paved and painted parking lot.

Overflow traffic may park in the business lot below the site.

Michael Stewart, who is organizing the parade, said that the list of entrants hasn’t been finalized but is likely to include the Desert Squadron Composite Civil Air Patrol; the Native American Color Guard; the Gold Star Mothers; American Legion contingents from Tonasket, Oroville, Republic and Okanogan; North Valley Hospital; Home Depot; a number of armored personnel carriers; VIP vehicles provided by OK Chevrolet; and even the Hyde brothers’ A Cavallo mobile carousel.

There will also be refreshments provided by the Tonasket American Legion Auxiliary, and the on-site military library and Veterans Service Officer Shane Barton will also be available following the ceremony.

Following the national anthem (by Kim Harriman), Paul Lewis will perform a flyover and air show in his Nanchang CJ6.

“It’s a Chinese trainer painted in Russian colors,” Frank said. “It’s got a nine-cylinder radial engine, plus a smoke system and blank-firing machine guns developed by Hollywood special effects teams that they used to film ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’

“It should be quite a sight, and that’s coming from an Air Force man.”