Retired Marine battling ALS to serve as Kingsport parade's grand marshal

Matthew Lane • Jul 2, 2018 at 12:16 PM

KINGSPORT — A Sullivan County man with a long history of service to our country has been selected as the grand marshal for this week’s Fourth of July parade.

The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and its Leadership Kingsport program announced last week that retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Lane (U.S. Marines) will serve as the grand marshal for the annual Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade.

“Master Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Lane is a fighter. He fought in Vietnam. He fought in Iraq. And now he is fighting ALS,” said Miles Burdine, president and CEO of the Kingsport Chamber. “I love being around Ken. We are both retired Marines, so we enjoy talking about our corps. But, more than that, I enjoy hearing him talk about his family, his country and his Kingsport. We are honored to have Ken as our grand marshal.”

Lane is a native of Sullivan County and lived for more than two decades in Kingsport before retiring from Eastman Chemical Co. in 2002. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2008 after 31 years of service, rising to the highest enlisted rank possible: master gunnery sergeant.

His tours of duty include serving one year in Vietnam, serving stateside during Operation Desert Storm and being deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, for seven months during Operation Enduring Freedom (2005).

In September 2016, Lane was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Lane said he’s both humbled and honored to be asked to serve as the grand marshal.

“I don’t feel deserving ... because I wasn’t a war hero or an elected official or a community leader,” Lane said. “But by having ALS and leading the parade, I feel like I can bring awareness to help support a cure for this awful disease. Then it’ll be worth it.”

The Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. on July 4 at the Renaissance Center and follow Center Street to Fort Henry Drive, ending at Memorial Park across from Dobyns-Bennett High School.

VPR Vanderpool Roofing is sponsoring the parade’s grand marshal, and half of the sponsorship will be donated to our local ALS chapter.

For more information about the parade, contact Vanessa Bennett at (423) 392-8813 or [email protected]

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