Patch: From Honor Guard to Grand Marshal

May 28, 2012

Northport Mayor George Doll served as grand marshall. The Northport 2012 Memorial Day Parade drew patriotic crowd and enthusiastic marchers down Main Street on Monday. Credit Jason Molinet
Title: From Honor Guard to Grand Marshal; Mayor George Doll once served in honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery. He brought pomp and ceremony Monday to Northport Memorial Day parade.
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: May 28, 2012
Word Count: 468

Before he was mayor of Northport, before he was a lobsterman, George Doll served in the honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

Just a lanky kid from the Long Island suburbs, Doll landed the prestigious duty in 1965, just as the war in Vietnam started to intensify. Doll was drafted and served 18 months with the 3rd Infantry Division guarding Washington.

So Northport picked the right Grand Marshal for Monday’s Memorial Day Parade.

“Down there it’s real serious,” Doll recalled of his stint at Arlington, home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “The day before Memorial Day, the whole army goes out and puts a flag on every one of those graves.”

Doll was a member of the Army drill team in his youth, in part because of his height. As he led the parade down Main Street on Monday – astride a white-haired draft horse and representing the American Legion – Doll appeared downright imposing.

He takes his current role deadly serious.

“Even though I didn’t serve in combat, I was very close to people who did,” Doll said. “My platoon leader, Lt. [Micahel Eugene] Kraft, was sent to Vietnam. He was killed within [three months]. He came back and we had the detail to bury him.”

Kraft was killed in action in the An Lao Valley on April 8, 1967. He was interred at Arlington.

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Doll’s tie, featuring Texas state flag, is a tribute to another fallen comrade. It was a gift from a buddy who died in Vietnam.

“This is not part of the American Legion uniform,” Doll said of the tie. “One of my friends in the service gave me this before he got killed in Vietnam. So I wear this on Memorial Day.”

Doll has been part of the Northport parade since he was a child watching the procession march by.

There was a time – before Doll – when the annual Memorial Day ceremony paraded down an unpaved Main Street. Through the decades, it’s an event that binds the Village and one generation to another.

“The parade always has the right touch,” Doll said. “A lot of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Legionnaires. We are very receptive to the flag display put on by the Rotary Club. If you are doing something patriotic, you have a good chance getting it OK’d.”

The formal pomp of the day struck the proper red, white and blue chord.

Maybe some future mayor of Northport watched Monday’s ceremony in awe sitting on the street curb – or a stroller – as Doll rode past.

It was an inspiring morning. The dead were honored. Our living war heroes were saluted. It was a day where you were proud to live in Northport.

About this column: Regional Editor Jason Molinet weighs in on the people and issues which make Long Island great.