City of Columbus Engineering Project Manager Dave Boswell is back from Washington D.C. after being one of the hundreds of U.S. veterans to march in the National Memorial Day Parade.
“It was definitely worth the trip. Not just for me, but for all the men and women who were out there,” said Boswell, a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Boswell was one of more than 350 veterans from around the country who was invited to march in the annual parade Monday along with the honor of carrying one of the 50 U.S. state flags down Constitution Avenue. He headed out to the East Coast on Saturday, May 27th, and came home Tuesday afternoon, May 30th.
“It was very wet,” Boswell recalled. “It rained the whole time during the parade, but otherwise the weather was nice."
Boswell first enlisted in late 1986, inspired by his father who spoke highly of his own experience serving in the U.S. Navy. After enlisting, Boswell became an aviation storekeeper until he was discharged in the early 1990s.
“It was interesting,” Boswell said. “I ordered parts for airplanes and took care of our operating budget, as well as some other things.”
During his time, Boswell experienced just about every natural disaster possible around the world: Earthquakes in California, tornadoes in Mississippi, hurricanes in Puerto Rico and sandstorms in the Middle East. His time of service also came during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Within 24 hours, Iraq's military occupied its southern neighbor with the intent of further advancing into Saudi Arabia. Then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush successfully lead of coalition of dozens of nations in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, which became known as Operation Desert Storm.
Serving during that time played a significant factor in Boswell’s easy decision to participate in the National Memorial Day Parade.
“I have some friends who didn’t make it home,” he said. “What better way to honor them? I’d much rather do it in the sunshine, but all of us being out there in the rain solidified it.”
They weren’t alone. The current Kuwait ambassador, Sheikha Al Zain Al Sabah, showed up at the parade site to meet with the group of U.S. veterans. Boswell said her security detail provided her an umbrella, but she declined to use it and insisted she would stand in the rain alongside the U.S. vets.
“She said, ‘If these ladies and gentlemen are out here in the rain, so will I,’” Boswell recalled her saying. “She walked through (the group) and talked to us, she thanked us.”
Boswell said the actions of the ambassador meant a lot, as did the reaction the veterans received from the crowd in D.C.
“Once we turned onto the parade route, it was very surreal,” he said. “I’ve never heard people cheer and yell so much for a group of people without even thinking about it.”
A Columbus native and proud family man, Boswell has been a longtime employee of the City of Columbus with plenty of responsibility, such as spearheading the stormwater management program. City Engineer Rick Bogus said Boswell is a great team member.
“Dave’s detail and drive running our stormwater management program provides immense value to not only the engineering department but to all of the community,” Bogus said. “He is always willing to dive in and learn, collaborate and contribute to the success of the program and the department.”
Boswell got to do a little sightseeing while in Washington D.C. and learn more about plans for the Desert Shield and Desert Storm Memorial at the National Mall there. Since 2011, the National Desert Storm Memorial Association (NDSMA) has worked to achieve its singular mission of constructing the Desert Shield and Desert Storm Memorial at the National Mall in Washington. The NDSMA’s goal is the completion and dedication of the memorial by Spring 2025.
Participating in the parade will undoubtedly be something Boswell never forgets.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It was very, very wet, but I had a great time.”