Fred Fillbrook, who served with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, saw Veterans Day as an “almost forgotten holiday” before he helped establish Mill Creek’s Veterans Day parade several years ago. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Fred Fillbrook, who served with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, saw Veterans Day as an “almost forgotten holiday” before he helped establish Mill Creek’s Veterans Day parade several years ago. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Mill Creek honors veterans with parade, flag-raising ceremony

Army paratrooper Fred Fillbrook, 80, was instrumental in its return to the city.

The 80-year-old Fillbrook was a force behind the founding of the Mill Creek Veterans Day parade. On Saturday, the parade brought about 60 entrants to Main Street, from the heart of Mill Creek Town Center to City Hall.

Among dozens of scheduled parade participants were Cmdr. Rodman Burley, executive officer of Naval Station Everett; retired Air Force Brig. Gen. William Hathaway, who served in World War II, and several other veterans of the Second World War; Bothell American Legion Post. 127, the 82nd Airborne Division Association’s Evergreen State Chapter, Community Transit’s military veterans, and Everett High School Seagull Company Navy JROTC.

As the longtime editor and publisher of the biweekly Mill Creek View, Fillbrook took up the cause of a Veterans Day parade in an article he wrote for his newspaper in 2007. “The almost forgotten holiday,” the headline said. “It’s time to march for freedom appreciation.”

Fillbrook, who grew up in Detroit, joined the Army at 18. He said he tried to join the Marines at 15, but his tender age meant a rejection.

As part of the 82nd Airborne, he went to jump school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and later served at Fort Sherman in Panama, a U.S. Army center for jungle warfare training. After active duty, he spent eight years in the Army Reserve.

His commitment to honoring veterans is linked to his family’s military history. An uncle, paratrooper Jack Rogers, and other relatives were killed in the D-Day invasion of France, he said. A cousin also died in World War II. He keeps in touch with men he knew in the military, and is saddened when a widow emails to tell him an Army buddy has died.

Fillbrook noted in his 2007 opinion piece that Arlington and Auburn were then the only cities in the area with parades on Veterans Day. “Let’s show them we care and are thankful for their service,” Fillbrook wrote. He asked those interested in starting a veterans appreciation group to contact him.

“A lot of people met and formed a committee, 12 of us,” Fillbrook said Wednesday at the Mill Creek home he shares with his wife, Nola. He said it was a visit to Arlington, where a Veterans Day parade included Boy Scouts and World War II veterans, that prompted his 2007 article seeking recognition of military service in his city.

Fillbrook and others in the community organized Mill Creek’s first Veterans Day ceremony in 2008. By 2009, with city support, Memorial Day was marked with a Mill Creek parade that brought out several thousand people.

Working together, Fillbrook and Army veteran Chuck Wright brought the idea of a monument to Mill Creek’s City Council. Wright, a retired probation and parole supervisor who lives in Mill Creek, served as a medic in the DMZ in Korea.

In June 2010, the city dedicated its Veterans Monument at Library Park near the Mill Creek Library. The city-sanctioned Veterans Day parade followed several years later.

Before this year’s parade, a Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony Saturday morning honored military service. The event at the Veterans Monument included a color guard, the laying of a wreath, a prayer from Mill Creek Police Chaplain Nick Lewis and patriotic songs by the Mill Creek Chorale. The names of some of Fillbrook’s ancestors are etched on the monument.

Holly Harvey, Mill Creek’s communications and marketing coordinator, said the city provided $3,000 for the Veterans Day parade this year. The event is also supported by businesses and other sponsors, she said.

Sharing pictures he took of fellow paratroopers at Fort Bragg, Fillbrook recalled his fear during ground training. That was more than 60 years ago. He remembered how paratroopers in training scaled a 34-foot tower and, harnessed, rode a cable to the ground. By the time he was jumping from planes — jump aircraft included the C-119 and C-123 at the time — Fillbrook said his anxieties had vanished.

“I loved it,” he said. “I still have a bad knee from it.”

After the military, Fillbrook spent much of his career in store security. His wife works for the Boeing Co. He has run the Mill Creek View, published every other Friday, for 26 years.

“Once a soldier, always a soldier,” Fillbrook said. “Most important, we got the parade going. It’s a good parade. We’re really proud of it — what it represents.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald

Talk to us

More in Local News

Monroe High School with (inset) a Facebook video screenshot from Nov. 10, 2021, which showed a white student repeatedly using racial slurs in a confrontation with a Black student.
‘It makes me angry’: Black students in Monroe report persistent racism

“Please help stop this racism,” a first-grade student told the Monroe school board Monday. Other kids reported racist slurs.

Zachary Robbins
Marysville superintendent could start a month early

A June start means Zachary Robbins could weigh in on a $13.5 million budget shortfall and a parental consent policy for clubs.

Driver dies after rollover crash at Smokey Point

The deceased man, 25, reportedly sped off from police before crashing into a nearby utility pole. A woman, 19, was injured.

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2020, file photo, a Washington state Department of Agriculture worker holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree in Blaine, Wash. Authorities say they've found the first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021 in a rural area east of Blaine. State entomologists will now develop a plan to eradicate the nest. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Scientists will set 1,000 traps for murder hornets this year

Asian giant hornets, first detected in 2019, are are believed to be confined in Whatcom County.

Lynnwood City Council member George Hurst moves to postpone action on the vehicle license fees ordinance during the council's meeting Monday. (Screenshot/City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood to keep collecting a car tab fee and utility tax, for now

City Council members will consider repealing them in October when they write a new city budget.

Epic Ford on the corner of 52nd Street and Evergreen Way in Everett is closed. The dealership has been in business for more than 50 years. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
After 50 years, Everett’s Epic Ford dealership closes shop

It opened in 1971, when gas guzzling muscle cars like the Ford Mustang still ruled the road.

Lyon Torns enters the courtroom for his sentencing Wednesday afternoon in the Snohomish County Superior Courtroom in Everett, Washington on May 25, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett man gets 19 years in fatal Marysville shooting

Lyon “Nick” Torns sold fentanyl to Jason Castle, 42. In November 2020, Torns shot and killed him, then fled to Las Vegas.

Ian Saltzman
School leaders in Everett, Mukilteo districts receive raises

Superintendents Ian Saltzman in Everett and Alison Brynelson in Mukilteo secured contract extensions through 2025.

Brace for Memorial Day weekend traffic and long ferry lines

Leave at non-peak hours to avoid road congestion and ferry backups. The passes will be busy, too.

Most Read