Noah Galloway still sounds floored since receiving the invitation to be grand marshal for the “Military Appreciation Days” Memorial Day weekend parade.
In a phone call Monday from New York, the retired sergeant from two Army deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom said he has appreciated the honor in his native Alabama for two Christmas parades and one for Veterans Day, all before the steps he took in spring 2015 on the 20th season ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” where he finished in the top three.
Galloway called the Myrtle Beach parade – which begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, from Horry-Georgetown Technical College Grand Strand Campus in Myrtle Beach, then turning left on Pampas Drive, left on Howard Avenue, left on Farrow Parkway, going by Grand Park and The Market Common, and left on Forbus Court – exciting, also for a family vacation. He said his children finish their school year this week, so “I’m bringing all three.” The parade is among many events scheduled across the Grand Strand for this holiday weekend.
Since losing his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee from a bomb attack in 2005, Galloway has written his own comeback for a new life, especially to inspire others. He said thanks to “strong military upbringing,” and with “uncles, grandparents and cousins who served,” he always “had a lot of respect for a strong military.”
“It still surprises me that I am part of that incredible veterans’ community,” Galloway said.
Meeting an older vet recently, from the Vietnam War era, left an impression.
“He looks at me like I am just equal,” Galloway said. “I have so much respect for them, and to be a part of this family still amazes me.”
Memorial Day’s meaning and reasons to be solemn, and to remember the fallen who given their lives for the United States, moves Galloway only more deeply since his service.
“For me,” he said, “it’s more than just a weekend for fun in the sun. You have that moment when you take some time out of the day. I think about the buddies I lost. When I hear ‘taps,’ it touches me in a different way now.
“I had respect before, but it now a truer meaning, and there are faces to it that come along with my memories.”
Bringing up Veterans Day’s roots honoring Armistice Day – the end of World War I, on Nov. 11, 1918 – Galloway stressed, “there’s nothing wrong with having a good time” on Memorial Day weekend, but everyone has a role sharing the remembrance part with future generations, so that “we pass that down, and now, I am part of that generation.”
Having veterans speak at schools, for instance, for another voice in preserving history,” Galloway said, “little things like that, they go so far.”
Statement in strength, ‘human spirit’
In the wake of Nyle DiMarco, dancing to victory Tuesday night with professional Peta Murgatroyd this season on “Dancing with the Stars,” and double amputee Amy Purdy (with Derek Hough) reaching the finals in spring 2014 – and their overcoming respective obstacles and disabilities – Galloway sees the statement such strength makes.
“When I was on,” he said, “I didn’t understand the impact I would have on people. Just yesterday, people stopped me, saying it’s changed their views on what’s positive.”
Galloway said he conversed with his former dance partner, Sharna Burgess, this season during the “switch-up” week, when the competitors take on new partners just for a week. He praised DiMarco, “who cannot hear any of the music,” but “it shows his work ethic.”
“It’s not just people with a disability who can do anything they thing they can,” Galloway said. “It’s the human spirit.”
Although he hadn’t tuned in to the series before his tenure, Galloway said he knew of J.R. Martinez – the Myrtle Beach parade grand marshal last May, and a fellow soldier who rebounded from severe burns in a roadside bomb in Iraq – before Martinez competed on the show in its 13th season and won the Mirror Ball Trophy with Karina Smirnoff in fall 2011.
Anyone who marveled at seeing Galloway’s overhead lifts of Burgess, without his prosthetic arm, can make room for more wonder, because he said from his first-day workout with her, they bonded in brawn.
“She made the comment, ‘I wonder if I can pick you up,’” Galloway recalled, then his own kettlebell snatch exercise routine paid off.
“I had to trust her, as she did for me,” he said, praising her resolve and teamwork as the start to building their lifts came easily, encompassing her jumping with her body to his shoulder and pressing up with her arms and legs.
Galloway joked that when their performance to Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” garnered 41 million views online in the first week after airing, “ I bet 20 million of those were from my mother watching.”
Back down on solid ground, Galloway reiterated “how much he appreciated” every viewer who cast votes for him and Burgess, and since then, “ I have been nonstop,” all changing his life for the better, “on the go,” averaging 1-2 motivational speeches given weekly.
Asked whom he’d like to see on a future season of “Dancing with the Stars,” Galloway saluted Alek Skarlatos, an Army National Guard specialist from Oregon best known for helping thwart a terrorist attack last year on a train to Paris. He took third place this past autumn with Lindsay Arnold.
Galloway said whenever the pairings include service personnel on, even those without a disability, “shows a side of the military that more people need to see,” with endless opportunities on new perspectives.
He also concluded, “it’s time to see a female veteran on there ... who can share her back story.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.
If you go
‘Military Appreciation Days’
Eighth annual “Military Appreciation Days,” through May 31. More details at 843-918-1014 or www.militaryappreciationdays.com:
▪ Memorial Day weekend parade, 10:30 a.m. Saturday – from Horry-Georgetown Technical College Grand Strand Campus in Myrtle Beach – left on Pampas Drive, left on Howard Avenue, left ton Farrow Parkway,going by Grand Park and The Market Common, and left on Forbus Court – with Noah Galloway, U.S. Army veteran and a third-place finisher with Sharna Burgess on ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” in spring 2015, as grand marshal. (noahgalloway.com)
▪ Family Picnic, noon-2 p.m. Saturday in Myrtle Beach’s Grand Park, across from The Market Common, with meet-and-greet with Galloway and concert by Andrew Thielen Big Band, and free meals for military personnel, veterans, and their families, and “Veterans Beard & ’Stache Beach Bash” contest.
▪ “Blood and Sweat Fitness Challenge,” in a Marine Corps style with eight male and female athletes each – and benefiting Special Operations Wounded Warriors – by Gunny’s Boot Camp in Myrtle Beach, 2-9 p.m. Sunday at RH Acres (also known as The Rat Hole – 843-213-2688 or therhacres.com), 3833 Socastee Blvd., Socastee, near entrance to Socastee Automotive. 843-209-2315 or www.gunnysbootcamp.com.
▪ Memorial Day Veterans March with Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, 9 a.m. Monday, south on Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard between 16th and Ninth avenues North, with brief ceremony at former Pavilion site.
▪ Memorial Day ceremony, with Grand Strand Patriotic Alliance, 11 a.m. Monday at Myrtle Beach Convention Center Plaza, on Oak Street at 21st Avenue North – Festive Brass of Myrtle Beach also will perform at 10:30 a.m.
▪ Sixth annual “Myrtle Beach Memorial Day Tribute,” 2 p.m. Monday, including “Patriot Dream: The Story of the Pilgrims” film, at Grand 14 Cinema, at The Market Common. Free.
Other special outings this weekend
▪ Memorial Day services by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10420 of Murrells Inlet – Placing of flags by veterans and schoolchildren, 9 a.m. Friday in Belin Memorial United Methodist Church cemetery, 4182 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; and formal service, noon Monday at post, 4359 U.S. 17 Bypass S., Murrells Inlet, with Betty J. Hilliard, S.C. State VFW Commander, as guest speaker; Battle Cross ceremony by Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association; and music by Pawleys Island Concert Band. 843-651-6900.
▪ At Florence National Cemetery, 803 E. National Cemetery Road, Florence, east of U.S. 52 and south of U.S. 76: “Scouts Day” annual Flag Placement, with volunteers marking more than 12,000 graves 9:30 a.m. Saturday; and Memorial Day ceremony, 10-10:45 a.m. Monday, including Army Major Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., S.C. adjutant general, as keynote speaker. 843-669-8783.
▪ Boy Scout Troop 891 annual barbecue, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Socastee United Methodist Church, 5575 Dick Pond Road, behind Domino’s. 843-650-3373 or www.socasteeumc.org.
▪ “SummerFest!” 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, on Third Avenue and Laurel Street in downtown Conway. Free admission; and children’s all-you-can-play zone $5. 843-488-1950 or www.conwayparksandrecreation.com.
▪ “Memorial Saturday Music & Cookout,” 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at La Belle Amie Vineyard, 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, just west of North Myrtle Beach Middle School. $3, or free with donation of two canned or dry food items to help local food bank. 843-399-9463 or labelleamie.com.
▪ Town of Surfside Beach – “Blessing of the Beach,” 7-8 a.m. Sunday on beach by Surfside Beach Pier parking lot, at Ocean Boulevard and Surfside Drive – with opening prayer by Grand Strand Community Church; music by youth choir, and sermonette from Tom Wallace, pastor, all from Journey Church; and closing prayer by Brent Thompson, pastor from Low Country Community Church; Memorial Day Cookout, 4-8 p.m. Sunday, nearby on Surfside Drive; and Memorial Day service, 2:30 p.m. Monday at veterans memorial, in Passive Park, at Surfside and Willow drives, by Horry County Memorial Library Surfside Beach branch. 843-650-9548 or www.surfsidebeach.org.
▪ Memorial Day weekend march, coordinated by Andrew Demarest, for fallen heroes, noon Sunday from The Fresh Market, 7747 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach (To join, meet at 11 a.m.), heading 6.3 miles northward to Wild Wing Cafe, 4706 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. 843-655-9135, or Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Wilmington Big Band concert, as part of Memorial Day Celebration to honor local veterans, 4 p.m. Sunday in newly opened Mulberry Park in Shallotte, N.C. 910-253-2031 or bcparks.recdesk.com.
▪ Memorial Day observance, 10 a.m. Monday at Georgetown Veterans Memorial, 715 Church St. (U.S. 17), Georgetown, between American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, with retired Navy Cmdr. Joe Bull speaking about USS Tang (SS 306) submarine – sunk Oct. 25, 1944, during World War II, with losses including Seaman Rubin Raiford of Georgetown – and the second USS Tang (SS 563) – recommissioned in 1951 and on which another Georgetown native, Joe Bull, was engineering officer and later commander. 843-546-3745.
▪ Memorial Day service with Little River Elks Lodge 2840 and other groups, including music by Myrtle Beach Regional Pipe Band, 10:30 a.m. Monday at North Myrtle Beach Memorial Gardens, 65 E. S.C. 90, Little River, at U.S. 17, S.C. 9 and Nixon Crossroads. 843-249-2932.
▪ Memorial Day service by Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 925 Grand Strand, 11 a.m. Monday at Old Horry County Courthouse, 1201 Third Ave., Conway. 843-492-0005 or www.vva925.org.
▪ 51st annual Memorial Day Observance, 5:45-6:30 p.m. Monday on Battleship North Carolina, at U.S. Routes 17, 74, 76 and 421 in Wilmington, N.C. Free admission for this event. 910-251-5797 or www.battleshipnc.com.
▪ Viewing of Mars in its closest approach to Earth in more than a decade, through telescopes, weather permitting, also with expected views of Jupiter and Saturn, 9 p.m. at 9 p.m. at Ingram Planetarium, 7625 High Market St., Sunset Beach, N.C. Free. 910-575-0033 or www.museumplanetarium.org.
▪ Sixth annual “Holes for Heroes” miniature golf benefit for American Red Cross of Eastern South Carolina, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday at Gilligan’s Island Funland Golf, 3009 U.S. 17 Business, Garden City Beach, across from Jensen’s community. Donations welcome. 843-477-0020 or www.redcross.org/SC, and 843-651-4220 for host site.
Specials/discounts involving military
▪ This week at Calvin Gilmore Theater, at northern junction of U.S. 17 Business and U.S. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach – Plus tax: $15 tickets for current and past military and first responders, and as many as three guest tickets for $23.25 each in their party – for “Time Warp” at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, and for Thursday: “Thunder and Light” 4 p.m. and “The Carolina Opry” 7 p.m. 843-913-4000, 800-843-6779 or www.thecarolinaopry.com.
▪ For “Bob Hope: An American Treasure” exhibit, at North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum, 799 Second Ave. N., North Myrtle Beach: Free admission for military and veterans, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, on 113th anniverary of Hope’s birth. See exhibit through August: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; and noon-4 p.m. Sundays – $10 ages 18-59; $8 ages 60 and older and military/student with ID; $5 ages 5-12; and free ages 4 and younger. 843-427-7668 or www.nmbmuseum.com, and www.bobhope.com.
▪ Wear biker gear or mention “biker discount” through Tuesday at any of five Ripley’s attractions in Myrtle Beach – Aquarium, on 29th Avenue North, in Broadway at the Beach; and Odditorium, Haunted Adventure, Marvelous Mirror Maze, and 5D Moving Theater, 901-915 N. Ocean Blvd. – and generate a $2 donation to Combat Veteran’s Motorcycle Association Chapter 34-3 (www.cvma34-3.com). 843-448-2331 or www.ripleys.com/myrtlebeach.
▪ At Legends in Concert, 2925 Hollywood Drive, Myrtle Beach, at U.S. 17 Bypass and 29th Avenue North, across from Broadway at the Beach: Free ticket for U.S. military and veterans with purchase of one full price, regular adult ticket, for shows at 8 p.m. daily through Tuesday, except for Sunday, with ID and pickup at box office, with code “PMI.” Scheduled tribute lineup: Elvis Presley, the Blues Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Adele, and Bruno Mars. 843-238-7827, 800-960-7469 or www.legendsinconcert.com/myrtle-beach.
If you watch
WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE: 27th annual “National Memorial Day Concert,” live from U.S. Capitol west lawn in Washington, D.C., 8-9:30 p.m. Sunday, with replay right afterward, 9:30-11 p.m., on PBS: including ETV outlets WHMC-TV 23 of Conway and WITV-TV 7 of Charleston, and WUNJ-TV 39 of Wilmington, N.C. (www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert)
WITH: Actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, co-hosts, with singers Trace Adkins, Renée Fleming, Trent Harmon, and the Beach Boys; actor/singers Alfie Boe and Katharine McPhee; actress S. Epatha Merkerson; actor/producer/director Esai Morales; National Symphony Orchestra with Maestro Jack Everly, as well as the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, U.S. Army Chorus, The Soldiers’ Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, and U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants.