UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) – Honoring those who trailblazed a path for America through the unknown is the theme of this year’s Upper Arlington Fourth of July parade in Ohio.
Their Grand Marshal? 101-year-old World War II codebreaker, Major John Bergmann.
“Very exciting, after all these years of going to the parade for 20 years,” Bergmann said. “I’m finally here.”
Just before he graduated from college, Bergmann was recruited by the Army for a top-secret mission: codebreaking. He received his diploma and set out for training not even knowing what his mission would be.
“From the time I was a young scout, Eagle Scout, I was always a patriotic,” Bergman said. “When I went into the Army, I didn’t know what was in front of me, but I was ready for it.”
What was in front of him was deciphering codes from all over the world to help the allies end the war in Europe. Bergmann was also sent on a mission to Myanmar to retrieve documents that would help them break the codes. During this mission, Bergmann lost one of his eyes.
Codebreaking has been credited with shortening the war by two years and, in turn, saving uncounted lives, making Bergmann an obvious choice as the grand marshal of the Upper Arlington parade.
“It’s just amazing to have that man and that piece of living history from Upper Arlington,” said grand co-chair of the parade, Sam Porter. “And to represent us today and our theme.”
Bergmann will hit another milestone as he turns 102 this week, crediting a loving wife and marriage to his longevity.