Local veteran saluted with 101st birthday parade and flag presentation

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Lazone Grays, a World War Two and Korean Conflict veteran and Manhattan resident, celebrated a rather noisy 101st birthday yesterday.

Several members of the VFW, American Legion, Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County Police Department and Emergency Medical Services surprised Grays by parading in front of his home while blaring emergency vehicle sirens and motorcycle engines.

This was followed up by a ceremony in front of Grays’ home in which he was presented with a flag from the VFW Auxiliary.

Grays will also receive a flag in about a week that is currently being flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. in his honor.

“One of the philosophies as the VFW-post commander here in Manhattan is to let all veterans know that you’re not forgotten, to let them know that we’re here for you,” Dan Watkins, the commander of VFW Post 1786, said. “Whether you served in combat or if you didn’t, that is the VFW post of Manhattan’s mission, is to let veteran’s and their families know that we’re here for you.”

Those in attendance were sure to sing the song “Happy Birthday” loud and proud for Grays.

When it comes to turning 101-years old, Grays puts his feelings simply: “I’m just proud to be here,” Grays said.

The ceremony itself was organized by Mellisa Wahl, who is a family friend.

“I think it means a lot when we have someone who is in our community and our county who is celebrating their 101st birthday and they’re a World War Two veteran (and) a Korean Conflict veteran,” Wahl said. “And we have that opportunity to recognize them because I think we need to do more of that, (which) is to recognize our foundation’s citizens.”

Also in attendance were members of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Relations Committee, who presented Grays with a gift.

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