When the Norwalk’s 2013 Memorial Day Parade got under way on May 27, First Lt. Sharon Singewald was in a convertible at the front of the lineup.
Singewald, a former United States Air Force nurse, was the first female veteran to serve as grand marshal in the Norwalk Veterans Memorial Committee’s (NVMC) annual Memorial Day Parade.
At first, Singewald was taken aback when asked by the NVMC to lead the parade, which draws thousands of spectators to East Avenue each Memorial Day.
“My truthful thought was there was someone much more qualified,” Singewald said. But “I think it’s very nice that they’re also extending (the invitation) to other women who’ve served and asking them to join in the parade.”
Indeed, the NVMC invited other female veterans to walk alongside the convertible in which Singewald rode as part of the parade.
“Any woman veteran who would like to walk along the parade route next to the parade grand marshal’s car, they will be honored, also,” said Dan Caporale, NVMC chairman. “We’re going to give them a medallion.”
Karen Doyle Lyons, NVMC secretary, described Singewald as humble and well deserving of the leading the parade.
“She has been an asset to Norwalk and its citizens for many, many years, in many community service activities,” Doyle Lyons said. “We invite any and all female veterans to also participate with her in the parade and we are eternally grateful for their service to our country.”
Singewald grew up in Minnesota and served in the United State Air Force from 1964 until 1966.
At the time, the United States was increasing its presence in South Vietnam, and Singewald was preparing to serve as an air evacuation nurse, treating wounded soldiers en route from Vietnam to the Philippines.
But other events intervened.
While at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, she met Norwalker Alan Singewald, who was also serving in the United State Air Force. They soon were married.
As of September 2012, Connecticut had 16,163 female veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
For Jim Wrinn, NVMC parade marshal, it is only right that Singewald lead the 2013 parade.
“I think it’s about a time. There’s been a long and storied history of women in the military, serving honorably,” Wrinn said. “And I think it’s about time Norwalk recognizes that fact.”