Cheline to be Vet Parade grand marshal

James R. Cheline
Amanda Corbin
News Reporter

The 10th annual Veterans Day Parade in Poteau will be Saturday with the theme “Help, Honor, Remember.”

The parade will be at 10 a.m. and start at Carl Albert State College, travel along McKenna Avenue and end in downtown Poteau. Walking groups will join the parade from the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center parking lot.

This year’s grand marshal will be James R. Cheline.

Born in 1925 in North Henderson, Ill., Cheline was drafted into the United States Army right after graduating high school. He reported to Fort Sheridan near Chicago, Illinois, and was sent to Camp Wheeler in Georgia in August 1944.

In November 1944, Cheline and 21,000 other men left New York headed for Glascow, Scotland. They were unescorted and the ship changed course every few hours to keep from being tracked by the Germans.

They then crossed the English Channel in cattle boats and landed in Le Havre, France. There, Cheline was assigned to the 8th armored division. The 8th armored division was attached to Patton’s fourth armored division. They left France and headed to the Battle of the Bulge. They continued into Germany with Patton until the Germans surrendered.

Cheline was an infantry rifleman and sharp shooter. After the Germans surrendered, his division went to Austria to stand guard across from the Russians. Then they took a goodwill tour through Holland before returning home arriving in New York on New Year’s Eve 1945.

He returned to Fort Campbell until April 1946. On April 6, 1946, Cheline participated in the Army Day parade in Chicago. Thousands of troops marched down Lake Shore Drive and President Truman gave the address.

He was discharged in July 1946. All of his records were destroyed in the fire at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis in 1973.

Cheline returned home to North Henderson to farm for the next 42 years. He married Marilyn Swanson in August 1948. After retiring from farming in 1988, Jim and Marilyn traveled in a motor home working at campgrounds in Bar Harbor, Me., in the summer and river Ranch, Fla., in the winter.

In 1988, they moved to Cameron. They were married for 55 years. They had a son and daughter, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

He currently resides in Cameron on his daughter’s ranch where he lives with his current wife, Flossie Swearingen of Cameron.

Parade entrants should call the Poteau Chamber of Commerce at (918) 647-9178. Awards will be given for first, second and third place floats and other groups. There also will be a traveling trophy and first, second and third place plaques given, as well as a cash prize to band entries.

A free lunch will follow the parade at 11 a.m. in the Bob Lee Kidd Civic Center on the Poteau High School campus. Donations will be accepted.

The parade is sponsored by American Legion Post 188, Veterans Foreign Wars Post 4884, Disabled America Veterans Post 63, Vietnam Veterans of American Post 784, the Poteau Chamber, Scullyville Choctaw Veterans Association Post 4501, American Legion Post 210 and Veterans Foreign Wars Post 8403.