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Lester Pearsall named grand marshal of Veterans Day Parade

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 Lester Pearsall of Mount Sherman is this year’s grand marshal of the Veteran’s Day Parade.

His career began in 1975 in Boot Camp at Recruit Training Center, Orlando, Fla.

From April 1975 to May 1976, he trained at Service School Com­mand, Great Lake, Ill.  

He learned basic electricity and electronics. Advanced training included computer and radar theory. 

Pearsall graduated from Phase 2 as a Fire Control Technician 3rd Class. After Phase 2 he went to Class C school which was equipment specific.  

From June 1976 to December 1976 he served on the USS Plymouth Rock LSD 29 homeported in Baltimore, Md. He was responsible for the daily upkeep and maintenance of equipment he was trained on.

From January 1977 to December 1980 he served on the USS Bigelow DD 942 homeported in Mayport, Fla.

“We spent over a year testing the weapon under various conditions,” said Pearsall. “After the conclusion of testing, we were assigned routine duties in the Destroyer Squadron. I made one Mediterranean cruise which lasted close to seven months. During that time we visited Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Gibraltar. Upon returning, the ship went to Boston for an extended refit in a shipyard in Boston, Mass.”

From January 1981 to August 1996, Pearsall served with the U.S. Coast Guard. His first assignment was the USCGC Chase WHEC 718 a 378’ Coast Guard cutter homeported in Boston, Mass.  

“I spent two years aboard the ship during which time we participated in numerous drug patrols in the Cari­b­bean Sea as well as Alien Migratory Interdiction Operations which involved interdicting and rescuing boatloads of people (usually Haitians with sometimes as many as 200 on a 30-foot vessel with little or no food or water) and returning them to Haiti,” he said. “After this I was assigned to the First Coast Guard District staff working in the Office of Operational Readiness. I was responsible for coordinating all of the required reports from the District units ....”

He was in charge of the District Honor Guard which provided Color Guards for special events and Honor Guards for military funerals. 

He was sent to Small Arms Instructor School in Reserve Training Center, Yorktown, Va. where he learned how to train Coast Guard personnel in weapons.

He was then assigned to the USCGC Gallatin, WHEC 725 homeported in New York City. He performed drug patrols which resulted in the sinking of six drug runners and the confiscation or destruction of more than 300 tons of marijuana and several tons of cocaine.  

“We provided escort for the USCGC Eagle (the Coast Guard Academy training ship) on its annual goodwill cruise to Europe,” he said. “We stopped in Scotland, Norway, Gibraltar, Malta and Italy.”  

He next served as the Coast Guard representative at Service School Command Great Lakes. He was responsible for all Coast Guard personnel attending courses of instruction on the base and patients at the Naval Hospital. 

He received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for performance of duties during this time. He spent four years there before being sent to assignment to another Coast Guard Cutter.

His last command prior to retirement was the USCGC Chase WHEC 718. The ship had gone through an modernization yard period and had moved from Boston, Mass. to San Pedro, Ca. 

The ship’s mission had changed from drug enforcement patrols to fisheries patrols in the Bering Sea. These missions included enforcement of U.S. and international fishing regulations, as well as providing a search and rescue platform for vessels in distress. 

He retired in 1996 as a Fire Control Tech­nician Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8) with 21.5 years of service.

He moved to LaRue County after retirement. He was a volunteer firefighter on Buffalo Fire and Rescue for 14 years before resigning due to recurring military service related health issues. He also is a volunteer locomotive engineer and train conductor at the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven as well as acting in the street cast at the Kentucky Renaissance Festival in Eminence. 

He and his wife Laura have four children: three sons (Damian, Andrew and Jason), and a daughter (Elizabeth). All of them graduated from LaRue County High School.  

They have two grandchildren, Mason, 6, living in Boston, Mass., and Anastasia, 2, in Las Vegas.