Family of military vets are grand marshals in Whitewater's parade
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Pat, Jim and Mike O'Connor, all military veterans, will be the 2012 grand marshals in Whitewater's 4th of July parade. Submitted photo.
WHITEWATER--Jim O'Connor and his two sons, Mike and Pat--representing two generations of a Whitewater family with a long history of military service--will be the 2012 grand marshals of the Whitewater Fourth of July parade. They were named by the Whitewater Lions Club.
The O'Connors are part of a family with a history of serving the country in uniform that dates back to the Civil War.
Jim entered the service in 1952 and served 16-1/2 years. He was commissioned in 1953 and served in Korea with the 25th Division. In 1956 he became a helicopter pilot and in 1962 he was flying support missions for the infantry in Vietnam. Jim retired in 1969 and returned to Whitewater and has been active in business and community affairs.
Mike, the older son of Jim and Peg O'Connor, graduated from Whitewater High School in 1970 and then enlisted in the Army. He had training at Fort Campbell, Ky. and Fort Polk, La., and was assigned to Germany briefly before going to Vietnam in 1971. There he was assigned to the 1st Calvary Division at Bien Hoa. After serving his time in Vietnam, he returned to the state and completed his enlistment at Fort Riley, Kan. as a squad leader.
Mike graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He is employed at UW-Whitewater as the University Center building and grounds superintendent, the institution he always wanted to work for.
Pat was less than a month old when came to Whitewater after his dad was assigned to Korea. Pat graduated from Whitewater High School in 1971 and attended the United State Military Academy.
Upon graduation, he started on a 20-year career in the Army that took him to Fort Carson, Colo.; Camp Casey, Korea; and a couple of tours at Fort Campbell, Ky., with the101st Airborne. He served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm as executive officer for the 1st Battalion187th Infantry Regiment, with service along the Euphrates River.
Following his retirement in 1996, he worked in emergency management, and in 2010 was selected to serve as the director at the Bureau of Response and Recovery at Wisconsin Emergency Management, an organization that, in coordination with FEMA, responds to disasters. He has worked on eight presidentially-declared disasters.
Pat also has coached the UW-Whitewater rugby team for 20 years.
The Whitewater Lions Club 2012 July 4th parade starts at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. For a map of the parade route, see HERE.