Local veteran celebrates 101st birthday with surprise parade

Local News

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Celebrating 101 years is a big deal, and people in Manhattan wanted to make sure one local veteran celebrated in a special way.

Lazone Grays was celebrated Thursday afternoon for not only his 101st birthday, but for his outstanding military service.

Manhattan law enforcement including the Riley County Police Department and Manhattan Fire Department participated in a parade, passing by Grays’s house. He was presented with a flag and certificate to commemorate his service.

His long time friend Melissa Wahl was in charge of organizing the big surprise. She decided he needed to celebrate in a big way, so she reached out to everyone she could that knew Grays.

“I called my mom who is the president of the VFW Auxillary here in Manhattan, and then with that she sent an email out to the VFW president of Manhattan. Then I contacted the American Legion, I contacted Hali Rowland with the Riley County Police Department, and I contacted my dear friend Scott French with Manhattan Fire Department who’s the chief” Wahl said.

It started off with a few phone calls to people around the community that knew Lazone, and then took off from there.

“You know everybody said how many vehicles and I said oh, I don’t know.. 28.. 35.. It exploded. It absolutely exploded,” Wahl said. “So it was just.. It was meant to be. It was just meant to be.”

Grays was surprised by the parade and was loved by everyone there.

When asked how he felt, he simply said “I can go another year.”

Grays served in WWII and the Korean Conflict before retiring from the US Army at Fort Riley. Grays will also receive a second flag that will fly over the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. within the coming weeks.

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