Middlesex County News

Edison Selects ‘Tuskegee Airman’ Charles Nolley Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal

Credits: Submitted photo

EDISON, NJ – Township resident Charles Nolley – one of World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen – has been named Grand Marshal for the town’s upcoming 55th annual Memorial Day parade, Mayor Thomas Lankey announced today.

Edison’s popular annual parade will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, May 28th.

While it is nearly two months away, the town’s parade planning committee is seeking organizations, groups, and businesses to participate. Selecting a Grand Marshal was the first step.

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“Not only is Mr. Nolley a witness to history, he is living-history. His story is one of perseverance, dedication, service and success,” said Mayor Lankey. “We are privileged to have Charles and his wife Martha as neighbors, and we are honored to have him as our parade Grand Marshal.”

Drafted in 1943, Nolley – now 99 – trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama to be part of the elite Army Air Corps fighting force known as “Tuskegee Airmen,” four squadrons of African American fighter pilots. He spent three years with the 99th Pursuit Squadron and flew combat missions over Europe.

A 1937 graduate of Arts High School in Newark, Nolley enjoyed acting, dancing, stand-up comedy and he was preparing for an entertainment career before being drafted. After his 1946, honorable discharge as a lieutenant, Nolley briefly returned to show business, performing in several Broadway productions.

Later, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia State University, and a Master’s degree in dramatic arts from Columbia University. He went on to teach at Barringer Prep in Newark, where he served as vice principal before his retirement.

Nolley and his wife have two adult children, three grandchildren, and are both active members in Edison’s Oak Tree Senior Club.

In preparation for Edison’s annual parade, the township is seeking organizations, groups and businesses wishing to participate. These may include:

  • Veteran organizations and military reserve units.
  • Civic and community groups.
  • School and professional marching bands.
  • School and youth sports organizations.
  • Local businesses and mascots.
  • Bagpipers and choirs.
  • Police and fire departments.
  • Auxiliary police organizations.
  • Volunteer fire and first aid squads.
  • Antique automobile clubs.

This year’s parade will begin at Walsh Avenue, in the Clara Barton section, and travel along Amboy Avenue to Brower Avenue where refreshments will be served at the American Legion’s Clara Barton Post 324. The parade will again feature the “Most Patriotic” Bicycle Decorating Contest with prizes for creative youngsters.

Interested participants may contact Dana Ligato-Grego at dligato@edisonnj.org or call (732) 248-7298.

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