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WWII vet to lead Christmas parade

Cabot’s annual Christmas Parade will be led by a special veteran, organizer Matt Webber announced in a press release. “The parade committee has selected Charles Flynt as Grand Marshal for this year’s Christmas Parade,” Webber said. Flynt is possibly the last-known Lonoke County survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, he added.

The annual Cabot Christmas Parade, sponsored by Cabot City Beautiful, is set for Dec. 8. The procession will begin at 3 p.m. This year’s parade theme is “It’s A Dr. Seuss Christmas!” Webber said.

“This year’s parade is shaping up to be one of the best ever, including several marching bands, clowns, veterans groups and, of course, Santa Claus,” along with honoring Flynt, he said.

Deadline for entries is Monday, Dec. 2.

Entry forms, parade rules and route maps are available at the Veterans Park Community Center, the Cabot Chamber of Commerce office and are downloadable at www.cabotparks.com

Send completed forms, along with $10 entry fee, to: Cabot Christmas Parade P.O. Box 1101 Cabot, AR 72023.

Deadline for entry is Monday, Dec. 2; late entries will be considered on a case-by-case basis; late entry fee is $20.

Flynt, in previous interviews, said he is a Lonoke County native, and grew up on the Flynt farm in the Fairview area. He was 18 in 1940 when he enlisted in the Navy after the farm was lost in the Depression.

Flynt recalled serving aboard the U.S.S. Ramsey at the time of the attack. Unique to Flynt’s account is that he says he is one of the very few who actually fired on one of the mini-submarines used by the Japanese Navy in the attack, and later the ship he was on was credited with destroying another of the submarines.

Now 91, Flynt said is slowing down “a little, but not too much.” He said he has recently had problems with his knee, stemming from an injury suffered during the war, though he hesitates to call it a war injury.

It happened during combat operations in the Leyte Gulf. “My ship collided with another and it knocked me down two decks. There were a lot of ships there and it was hard not to run into each other,” Flynt said.

His other war injuries were limited to “little pieces of shrapnel … They’d just pull ‘em out and I’d go back to work,” Flynt said.

Unlike many of the other ships at Pearl Harbor, Ramsay’s guns had ammunition at the battle stations, Flynt said. He had been trained on the ship’s anti-aircraft guns.

According to the battle report filed by Ramsay’s commanding officer, general quarters was sounded at 7:55 a.m., the ship’s guns opened fire 10 minutes later. Flynt said the scene was chaotic. “I was scared. I was thinking, ‘Lord, lord, I’ll never make it back to Arkansas.”

“I shot at four or five planes. I don’t know if I hit any but I was a pretty good shot so maybe I did.”

It was an order from the officer of the deck that drew his attention to the small submarine that had surfaced not far away, Flynt said. “He said, ‘Submarine off the port bow, open fire.’ I got four or five shots off, but all of them missed. I don’t know why. I was a good shot,” he said, shaking his head.

Flynt said the submarine submerged but another ship did a sweep of the area, setting off depth charges that “crushed it.”

According to the battle report, Ramsay got underway at 8:55 a.m. and left the harbor. Flynt said the going was difficult with the channel cluttered by ships in various stages of operation. But worse, was seeing the casualties, “You could see bodies floating, I can still see them,” he said.

Although he remembers the attack well, Flynt said he “let it go” and does not harbor animosity toward Japan. “I knew if I did not it would eat me up,” he said.

“For me, there is no animosity against the Japanese or the Germans. It is done.”

Flynt said he served on several ships during World War II and supported amphibious operations at Saipan, Ulithi Atoll, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa.

The parade starting point is Panther Trail; the route will follow South Pine Street/Arkansas Highway 89 to Pond Street.

Christmas parade judges will be media specialists/librarians from the Cabot School District.

Entries will be judged in five categories: School/Civic, Church, Business, Animal/Equestrian and General/Personal. Trophy presentations will be at the Plantation Realty parking lot, 907 S Pine St. (across from Knight’s Shopping Center), behind the judges’ viewing platform.

For more information, contact the parade committee at 501-920-2122, or by e-mail at cabotbeautiful@yahoo.com

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