The crowd at the Glen Burnie Memorial Day Parade may wave flags and cheer as the bands and other marching units go by, but the grand marshal hopes the spectators also will remember men such as his best friend, Sgt. William Ford, who was cut down in the prime of his life in Korea.
After all, said Boris R. Spiroff, the holiday is intended to pay "tribute to the people who died, who gave their lives for freedom."
The parade committee chose Spiroff for grand marshal because of the wartime exploits described in his book "Korea: Frozen Hell On Earth," said Joseph Corcoran, parade chairman. Corcoran said he recognized Spiroff from the picture on the jacket of his book when he saw him last month at a meeting of American Legion Post 40 in Glen Burnie and asked him whether he would like to be in the parade.
"Sure, I'd like to meet some of the guys from Korea," replied Spiroff.
Then Corcoran hit him with the big question: "How would you like to be grand marshal?"
And Spiroff, 76, a career Army man who fought in World War II and Korea, couldn't refuse.
"To me, being grand marshal is an honor," he said.
Spiroff enlisted when he was 17 and just out of high school. Now, 59 years later, his work room walls are covered with medals from his career; a Bronze Star, the Korea Victory Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, a pendant from the Korean government, a patch from the Special Reconnaissance Battalion and two combat infantry badges.
He won the Bronze Star in Korea. On Oct. 15, 1950, Sgt. 1st Class Spiroff's unit was pinned down near Paui-Ru under heavy mortar fire. He formed an assault group from his platoon, led the men across an open area under a hail of gunfire to higher ground, attacked the enemy from the flank, destroyed several machine gun emplacements and forced the enemy to retreat.
It is all in his book, written in diary form from letters he wrote to his late wife, Catherine, while he was in Korea.
After his wife died of breast cancer at age 65 in 1990, Spiroff began cleaning out her closet. When he opened a shoe box, he found the letters he had sent her. "I was elated," he said. "I didn't know she had kept them."
Spiroff pecked out his book on an old electric typewriter in the work room of his Severna Park home.
He said he plans to bring copies to the parade because he wants to teach others about the war he once wondered whether he would survive.
The parade committee chose "Korea, the Forgotten War" as its theme this year to remind people about that war, Corcoran said.
The parade will begin at Harundale Mall at 2 p.m. May 19 and end at the Glen Burnie Improvement Association's carnival grounds on Crain Highway.
The association is sponsoring the parade.
The Korean War contingent will meet at the parking lot of Corkran Junior High School on Quarterfield Road and fall in line behind bands from Glen Burnie High and other schools.
And if people wonder why the veterans are at the parade, Spiroff said, they should remember men such as his friend William Ford.
Pub Date: 5/08/96