Army veteran Michael Fallon will lead Rockville Centre’s Memorial Day Parade on May 27 after being selected by fellow service members to serve as this year’s grand marshal.
“My jaw dropped,” said Fallon, 87, about finding out he was picked for the role by members of the village’s American Legion Post 303, which he joined more than 10 years ago.
“Being selected by members of the post to be a grand marshal is a great honor,” said Post 303 Commander Frank Colon, noting that Fallon is very modest and doesn’t seek recognition. “It shows a lot of respect, which he’s earned from all these veterans at the post.”
Fallon was born in Manhattan, and his family moved to Ireland when he was 6 years old. He returned to America as a teenager, and was drafted into the United States Army in 1951, training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for six months.
A combat engineer, he was in Korea in 1952 and 1953. “It was what it was,” Fallon said of his time there, noting he doesn’t talk about it. He then served in the Army Reserves for eight years before being discharged.
In 1960, he married his wife, Helen, who died in 2015, and the two had a daughter, Patricia, in 1961. Fallon’s family moved to Rockville Centre in 1968. He worked as a banker on Wall Street for 40 years, retiring from the First National Bank of Chicago in 1994.
He has spent much of his retirement traveling, taking more than 40 cruises around the world and visiting 62 countries and seven continents, according to a framed proclamation he received in 2017 from former Assemblyman Brian Curran, which hangs in his home. Small flags from the different countries he’s been to adorn his living room, complementing dozens of vacation photos and a collection of 1,000 or so matchbooks from just about everywhere he’s been.
Well-traveled, he also cares about his community. “We do a lot of good,” Fallon said of the service done by Post 303, noting that they recently visited the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center to deliver blankets and toiletries to veterans in need. The post also offers a sense of camaraderie between the members that’s hard to find elsewhere, he added.
“He makes all our events and goes to all the post meetings,” Colon said. Mike’s always there.”
On Monday, he will lead Rockville Centre’s veterans, the fire department and other village organizations from Parking Field No. 2, down Maple Avenue to Veterans Park, outside the John A. Anderson Recreation Center — at 111 N. Oceanside Road. The parade begins at 10 a.m.
Memorial Day is sad, he said. “You have thoughts that never go away,” Fallon noted. “It’s thinking back and perhaps dwelling on things that you’d be better off not dwelling on, but you can’t help yourself.”
There are satisfying moments too, however.
“It’s gratifying when we’re marching and somebody says, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Fallon said. “It’s a nice feeling.”