Larry Aasen Leads Memorial Day Parade

“This is incredible. I’m 95. At my age, you don’t get many awards.”

That’s Larry Aasen’s reaction to being named grand marshal of the 2018 Memorial Day parade.

The World War II airborne sergeant — and 55-year Westport resident — will ride the route from Riverside Avenue down the Post Road, and up Myrtle Avenue to Veterans Green, on Monday, May 28. There, he’ll give the keynote address.

Aasen — and many other Westporters — hope the 3rd time’s the charm. The 2 previous Memorial Day parades have been canceled due to weather. The grand marshals delivered their addresses in the Town Hall auditorium.

Larry Aasen, at last year’s Memorial Day parade.

Aasen has a lot to talk about.

He was born in a log cabin in the middle of a North Dakota snowstorm. There was no electricity, running water, central heating — not even a bathroom.

Aasen rose to sergeant in the 13th Airborne. After training in North Carolina, he was sent to France. His division had 20-person gliders, with no protection. The mission was to drop behind enemy lines, and destroy anything of value. Gliders had a 70% casualty rate, Aasen says.

His job was cryptographer, encoding and decoding secret messages. He had a security clearance from the FBI.

After his discharge in 1946, Aasen earned a journalism degree from the University of North Dakota. He headed east, for a master’s at Boston University.

Aasen moved to New York, “to seek my fortune.” He spent 14 years with New York Life Insurance, rising to vice president of public relations, then 20 years with the Better Vision Institute on campaigns urging Americans to get their eyes checked. Aasen worked with Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali and other celebrities on those projects. (He’s also met 6 US presidents.)

When they posed for this photo, President Obama said to Larry Aasen, “let’s put the rose (Martha Aasen) between 2 thorns.”

In 1963, he, his wife Martha and their young children moved to Westport. “We needed more room than a New York apartment,” he explains. “There were a lot of media people here, and they loved it.”

He and Martha live in the same Ellery Lane house they bought over half a century ago. He calls it “the best investment we ever made.”

Aasen served 17 years on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). His other volunteer activities include the Democratic Town Committee, Y’s Men, Rotary Club and Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Larry and Martha Aasen have not missed a Memorial Day parade in 54 years. This year, he’ll have a special role in it.

A well-deserved honor for one of Westport’s favorite 95-year-olds.

11 responses to “Larry Aasen Leads Memorial Day Parade

  1. Arline Gertzoff

    Go Larry Just the best

  2. Let the Sun Shine on Larry as he leads The Parade !

  3. Tom Feeley Sr

    Ask Larry to share his stories of sitting in a flimsy glider waiting hours “just in case.” Great guy👍🏼👍🏼🇺🇸

  4. Ann Marie Flynn

    Dan thank you for a great write up on one of my favorite people….Larry’s leading the parade and being Grand Marshall is a wonderful choice and he is deserving of it. He has an interesting town track record too.

  5. Maren Lauder

    Congratulations! A well deserved honor for our former neighbor. Such a very nice man.

  6. Michael Calise

    A Great Choice!

  7. I look forward to honoring this hero!

  8. Congratulations to Larry! He is so vibrant and sharp, that I was shocked to find out that he is 95. I have always known him to be such a positive contributor to our community. Reading about his WWII service, I now realize that his whole life has been one of service to others. We are so lucky to have Larry in our community. Thank you, Larry, and congrats on this honor! ~ Kristan Hamlin, RTM #4

  9. Andrew Colabella

    An American hero and true westport treasure.

  10. Andrew Colabella

    An American hero and true westport treasure.

  11. So, so Happy for this special man! Congratulations!