Aiken’s 17th annual Memorial Day Parade on Saturday will have a grand marshal who is very deserving of the ceremonial honor.
Regimental Command Sergeant Major Ronald S. Pflieger of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon is the “perfect guy” to be the star of a patriotic event, according to Jim Lorraine, executive director of the Aiken Warrior Project.
“He’s a soldier’s soldier,” Lorraine said. “He’s highly decorated, and he’s combat-experienced. He’s made thousands of parachute jumps.”
Pflieger is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier at Fort Gordon. He also is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier globally in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which supplies information systems and worldwide networks for the Army, Department of Defense and allied nations in coalition operations.
Awards and decorations earned by Pflieger during his 28-year military career include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), and Meritorious Service Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters).
Pflieger was involved in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Restore Hope, Uphold Democracy, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In addition, Pflieger participated in the relief efforts for hurricanes Andrew and Hugo.
“He’s the type of leader that soldiers can relate to,” Lorraine said. “He understands them, and he can get things done.”
Lorraine, who is retired from the military, was serving in the Air Force when he met Pflieger.
“Even though he’s probably one of the top 10 senior enlisted men in the Army, he’s still very much like any other grunt, any another G.I. He’s a regular guy, a great guy,” said Lorraine, a former officer and flight nurse.
He served as the Deputy Command Surgeon for the U.S. Special Operations Command.
The Memorial Day Parade will start at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Park Avenue and Union Street, where the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum is located. The procession will travel west on Park Avenue to Laurens Street. After a right turn onto Laurens, it will proceed to Edgefield Avenue, where it will conclude.
Spectators are encouraged to bring towels, blankets or folding chairs to sit on along the parade’s route, according to Joe Featherston, the event’s director. He said the parade is expected to have approximately 100 units. Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, state Sen. Tom Young and state Rep. Bill Taylor, among others, are scheduled to participate.
The parade’s organizers are the Marine Corps League’s James L. Hammons Detachment No. 939 of Aiken and the Aiken Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
Things to do at the Memorial Day Parade
The Harry Middleton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will have an open tent set up on Park Avenue near Laurens Street. More than 1,000 free flags will be handed out just before the Memorial Day Parade’s 1 p.m. start. For more information about the flag giveaway, call Carolyn Miller at 803-649-7909.