Rocky Bleier named Grand Marshal of Memorial Day Parade - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Rocky Bleier named Grand Marshal of Memorial Day Parade

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Rocky Bleier (Source: City of Myrtle Beach) Rocky Bleier (Source: City of Myrtle Beach)

From the City of Myrtle Beach

Army veteran and former Pittsburgh Steelers' running back Rocky Bleier will serve as the Grand Marshal of this year's Memorial Day Weekend Parade on Ocean Boulevard. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 25, and is a highlight of May's Military Appreciation Days. This month-long celebration is sponsored by the City of Myrtle Beach and PGBA, LLC, as a "thank you" to our dedicated service men, women and families for all that they do on our behalf. 

As Grand Marshal, Rocky Bleier will lead the Ocean Boulevard parade, then greet fans immediately afterward at the Military Appreciation Days Family Picnic, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues North. Everyone's invited to enjoy the festivities, which include military exhibits and displays and live music by the Andrew Thielen Big Band. The picnic lunch, prepared by the Omar Chefs Shriners, is free for active-duty military personnel, veterans and their families, including National Guard and Reserve. 

Rocky Bleier's life story is a gripping tale of courage on the football fields of America and the battlefields of Vietnam. A 1968 graduate of Notre Dame University, Bleier was drafted by the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers in the 16th round. As his first season ended, he was drafted again by the US Army in December 1968, putting his football career on hold. 

Bleier volunteered to serve in Vietnam, arriving there in May 1969 with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. On August 20, 1969, his platoon ran into an ambush, and his legs were seriously wounded by rifle fire and grenade fragments. The US Army Specialist 4 was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Bleier survived the injuries but could barely walk, and doctors advised that he would never play football again.

A year later, still weak, he reported to the Steelers' training camp but didn't make the starting roster. Undaunted, Bleier drove himself for two years to overcome the physical obstacles. Little by little, he fought back, successfully re-joining the Steelers' line-up in 1972. By 1974, he'd earned a starting spot as a running back for a team that won four Super Bowls and even caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl XIII. Bleier retired after the 1980 season with a career total of 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions and 25 touchdowns.

The Military Appreciation Days Committee is excited to have Rocky Bleier as the Grand Marshal for the 2013 Memorial Day Weekend Parade on Saturday, May 25. Bleier's military service, determination, optimism and inspiration are a perfect fit for May's month-long recognition of our service men and women and our military heritage here in Myrtle Beach.

Entries are being accepted now for the Memorial Day Weekend Parade. Interested groups and businesses will find parade materials on-line at www.militaryappreciationdays.com. In addition, local attractions, accommodations and restaurants are offering military and veteran discounts during the month of May. Other activities during Military Appreciation Days include concerts, a 5K walk/run and the traditional Memorial Day ceremony.

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