Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Greater Newton Chamber of Commerce Fourth of July Parade Nominating Committee by Doug Bishop of the Jasper County Freedom Flight Committee, nominating Junior Ekins to represent the county’s veterans as Grand Marshal. Learn more about Junior’s World War II military experience in Friday’s “Called to Serve” feature.
Parade Nominating Committee:
Darrell Sarmento mentioned that it would be proper to have a veteran serve as Grand Marshal in the Fourth of July Parade this year.
As you know, the theme is “A Salute to American Patriots.” I have been honored to have met numerous American Patriots over the past four years with our work on the Honor and Freedom Flights.
There were countless numbers of veterans who came to mind who would fit the criteria. In this case, I believe my friend and World War II veteran Junior Ekins would make a tremendous pick to represent all of his fellow veterans as Grand Marshal.
Junior, along with his brother Jack, was orphaned at an early age. They both joined the U.S. Marine Corps and volunteered to head to the South Pacific.
Junior participated in four beach landings with the First Marine Division, and was wounded on two separate occasions, which led to him being awarded two Purple Hearts. Jack was unfortunately killed in action outside Okinawa.
Junior made his way to Iowa after the war, where he met his wife, Velma, raised their three children and spent his nearly 40-year career at the Maytag Company. Junior is a man of great personal integrity who has always placed others’ needs above his own.
An emphasis on God, family and country is how Junior has chosen to lead his life. I know, if awarded this honor, Junior would state, “I don’t deserve this,” but I would strongly disagree with those sentiments.
Junior Ekins epitomizes the word “patriot.” I am glad God has placed him in my life. I can only hope to live my life as honorably as he has.
As I stated earlier, many veterans are worthy of this honor. I believe Junior well represents them all.
With that, it is my honor and privilege to nominate my friend, and a great American patriot, Junior Ekins, to serve as this year’s Fourth of July Parade Grand Marshal.