FAIRBORN — Local veterans Rolla Edward (Ed) Malan and Chuck Knaub will lead the way as Fairborn’s 70th-Annual Fourth of July Parade rolls down Central Avenue as both have been named co-Grand Marshals.
“When you look at some of the people who have been marshals before — mayors and other famous Fairbornites — and to be with along with Ed, a WWII vet and Pearl Harbor survivor, it’s amazing to be able to represent Fairborn,” Knaub said.
Knaub, a retired United States Air Force chief master sergeant, is the immediate past commander of the American Legion Dignam-Whitmore Post 526. Although he is a native of Queens, New York, he said his hometown is Fairborn.
“Even though I grew up in … New York, this is so much more [of a] hometown than what I was used to,” he said. “And I’ve been watching this parade since 1967, other than when we were away, I’m honored to be a part of it and honored to be asked.”
Knaub first became familiar with Fairborn in 1967 upon being stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and meeting his wife, Debbie, at the former A&W root-beer stand.
“I was a single airman, she was a car hop — with no roller skates,” he said. “We met and the rest is history.”
His time in the Fairborn community came to a temporary end upon his departure for Southeast Asia at Utapao Air Base in Thailand, as well as California, Michigan, Texas and Japan. He was recognized as the USAF’s outstanding personnel manager in 1976 and returned to Fairborn in 1980, later retiring from the military in 1992 after 27 years of service.
Knaub is a 39-year life member of the local American Legion and served as the post commander from 1997-1998 and again from 2011-2016. He and his wife have two married sons and five grandchildren who all attend Fairborn City Schools. He said he appreciates spending his spare time as a delivery employee for Hollon Flowers.
“My wife is very shy, but I promised her last year, I said ‘this is my last year as post commander. When you managed the legion, you could never ride with me in the parade. I promise if you ride with me in the parade (last year representing the American Legion), I’ll never ask you to do anything like this ever again,” Knaub said. “Then when this came up, I said ‘Deb, you can’t make me do this alone,’ so she will be with me. I think with her being a Fairborn girl that she’s excited.”
Malan, a Pearl Harbor survivor, served the Navy during WWII as a naval machinist mate. After completing his time in the service, he worked for varying companies and eventually retired from the U.S. Postal Service. In addition to celebrating the Fourth of July on Tuesday, he will also be celebrating his 97 birthday. He has taken opportunities in the past to share his Pearl Harbor story.
“It was exciting and then it was scary, then it got scarier and even scarier,” Malan said about Pearl Harbor at a previous event. “After that, we got mad. By that time, most of the damage was done.”
Both Knaub and Malan will give a grand marshals award to a parade float before hopping aboard and waving to the onlookers. Catch them beginning 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 4 as the parade makes its way from the Fairborn Plaza and down Central Avenue until it ends at Main and Broad Streets.
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532. To follow her on Twitter, search for @FDHWhitney.