Retired Commanding Officer Butch Bailey is getting his well-deserved moment of recognition as this year’s grand marshal for the Fourth of July parade in Oak Harbor.
Bailey is in the parade every year with the Navy League, but this time he will be at the front of the procession, just behind the color guard, and will have his own car to ride in with his wife, former state Sen. Barbara Bailey.
“He’s the quiet guy behind everybody,” said Vicki Graham, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.
Bailey has a long history of serving the community and the Navy. He was the commanding officer of A-6 Intruder Training Squadron, VA-128 and commodore of A-6 Intruder Type Wing, Attack Wing Pacific.
Bailey served as president of the Navy League, a global, non-partisan organization dedicated to informing the American people and the government on the importance of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S. Merchant Marine.
Steve Bristow is the former president and current spokesman of the Navy League and the vice president of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Bailey was president of the Navy League before Bristow.
Bristow said he thought Bailey was chosen to be the grand marshal because he is a model of community service and leadership. Bailey was also a member of the Association of Naval Aviation, the Island County Republican Party and a dedicated member of the Rotary Club.
“He’s not just somebody who’s a member, he’s a guy that shows up,” Bristow said.
Bailey comes up with great ideas and backs up those ideas with personal effort, accroding to Bristow.
Bristow said he was a very popular leader in the Navy and “one of the key planners” during the Gulf War. He was a commodore for a Fleet Replacement Squadron “which meant he had a very senior influential position within the A6 community here on the base,” Bristow said.
Despite his high ranking as captain, Bailey has remained humble.
“He’s a high achievement, low-recognition type of guy,” Bristow said. “Which makes him even more genuine.”
After retiring from the Navy, Bailey led the Junior ROTC unit at Burlington-Edison and was an equally successful leader among young people and civilians.
He supported his wife at all her events and was a model husband and father as well, Bristow said.
“It feels pretty good,” Bailey said about being chosen for Grand Marshal.
He was surpised and honored, even though he thought there were other people more desrving of the role.
“It’s time that we put him in the limelight,” Graham said. “He does not like to be in the limelight but he needs to be given thanks for everything he does.”
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. in downtown Oak Harbor. The viewing stand is by the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum.