She was one of the first females in the U.S. Marine Corps and Friday night 96- year-old Josephine Velding rode in the Byron Center High School homecoming parade.

Every year the homecoming parade has a theme, and this year it was Brave Contributions. Students in the senior class thought former woman Marine Staff Sergeant Jo Velding was a veteran they should honor for her service during World War II.

“It is sort of an honor to think someone like me would get to do this,” she said. “Once a Marine always a Marine. It was a very wonderful experience--the people I met and the things I saw.”

Seniors at Byron Center High School say they asked Velding to represent them in the parade after meeting and interviewing her. They say her advice was to live each day to the fullest and don’t take anything for granted.

“She was very inspirational,” recalls senior Kaitlyn Lay.

“It was a learning time for me,” says Velding about her service in the Marines. “Learning about all the different things that can happen in the world.”

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