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Motorcade, ceremony honor war dead

‘Operation: Please Remember Me’ wraps up at Joseph E. Zaloga post

On Saturday, May 17, “Operation: Please Remember Me” honored Gold Star family members with a motorcade of more than 50 motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders escorting Gold Star Mothers down Route 9 — the old memorial highway — to the Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520.

On Saturday, May 17, “Operation: Please Remember Me” honored Gold Star family members with a motorcade of more than 50 motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders escorting Gold Star Mothers down Route 9 — the old memorial highway — to the Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520. Photo by Billy DeLap.

— The Town of Colonie is one of the few places in the country that has a motorcade procession and ceremony honoring families of the 1,201 men and women from the Capital District that have made the ultimate sacrifice in foreign wars since WWII.

On Saturday, May 17, “Operation: Please Remember Me” honored Gold Star family members with a motorcade of more than 50 motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders escorting Gold Star Mothers down Route 9 — the old memorial highway — to the Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520.

The route along Route 9 was lined with 120 American flags on the light posts, each honoring 10 of the 1201 veterans that died, with a black ribbon on the flag to signify mourning. The flags will remain up from Memorial Day to July 4.

“It’s to honor and respect more than anything else,” said Gene Loparco, secretary and treasurer of Please Remember Me. Loparco is a Vietnam era veteran who served in the Air Force.

“Let the public know that freedom isn’t free and that 1201 GI’s, including one woman, made the supreme sacrifice. The last one was Todd Clark, June 8,” said Loparco.

Lt. Col. Todd J. Clark, born in Albany, was killed on his fifth deployment last June. Clark was part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum and was in the Paktika Province, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Clark had served 17 years in the Army and received a Purple Heart on his fourth deployment when he was badly wounded by a roadside bomb on his first deployment to Afghanistan. His three prior tours were in Iraq.

“Today’s activities are important because we’re standing up and honoring those that have made the ultimate sacrifice and the Gold Star Mothers and families to keep their spirit involved,” said Jack Clark, the father of Todd J. Clark.

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