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Robert Gibson named grand marshal for 2024 Washington Celebrates America parade

 WASHINGTON BOROUGH, NJ (Warren County) – There are heroes, and then there are heroes!

Robert (Bob) P. Gibson, this year’s Grand Marshal for the Washington Celebrates America parade, valiantly fought for our country during World War II, and in fact was among the Allied soldiers who landed on Normandy Beaches in France on June 6, 1944, the day also known as D-Day, which was considered one of the pivotal moments that helped end the war in Europe.

This year’s Washington Celebrates America old-fashioned community parade takes place on July 4 in Washington Borough.

The day begins that morning with the Orange Crate Derby and ends with the fireworks at the Warren Hills Middle School at dusk. The parade, featuring local organizations, fire engines, first aid vehicles, marching bands, and more, steps off at 3:00 p.m. and takes place along Belvidere Avenue and Broad Street.

Gibson, who lived in Washington Township for many years and is a Past Commander of American Legion Post 103 in Washington (and still a member), turns 101 in September. In June for the third consecutive year, he’ll be flying to France to commemorate the anniversary of the invasion. This time the trip will be extra special as it marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“I was still in high school when I joined the Army in 1943,” said Gibson, who was a senior at Hampton High School at the time. “My father got my diploma.” After basic training in the United States, eventually he was on the Queen Elizabeth heading to Ireland – and then England – for additional training.

“We knew we were being trained for a battle, but nobody knew where it would be,” Gibson said. They trained in England for about a year in what turned out to be training for the D-Day invasion.

During the invasion, Gibson drove an M4 tractor with 90mm AA guns onto Utah Beach with a crew of five others. Two members of his crew were killed, as were hundreds of other soldiers during the battle.

“We were all just 18- and 19-year-old boys,” Gibson said.

Six months after D-Day, Gibson participated in the Battle of the Bulge, another pivotal moment in the war.

A research engineer for 44 years after the war, Gibson, who grew up in Hampton and lives there now, is a longtime member and former President of the Hampton Fire Company. His ties to the area are deep. Gibson, whose favorite restaurant was the long-gone Wayfarer on Route 31, has been married twice, to Betty and Arlene, both of whom are deceased.

Gibson proudly notes that he has owned 100 automobiles in his life, many of which were purchased at Smith Motors. His first car was a 1923 Chevrolet. One of his favorites was a 1956 Lincoln Continental Mach VII. Another was a 1953 MG. Over the years he owned several Volkswagen Bugs. In his driveway now is a 2019 Volkswagen SUV, although, he admits, these days his niece Jennifer Jones won’t let him drive because he said, “I have a heavy foot!”

In Hampton, where Gibson has also served as Mayor and on Town Council, the street he lives on is named after him. Gibson, who has been recognized by various organizations for his contributions, is clearly a well deserving Grand Marshal.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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