Nelson and Susan Graham, a Westbrook couple who married in the U.S. Army, will serve as co-grand marshals of the city’s Memorial Day parade Monday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A Westbrook couple that married in the U.S. Army will jointly serve as co-grand marshals of the city’s Memorial Day parade Monday.

Nelson and Susan Graham met at Fort Monroe in Virginia and were married at the post. They are longtime members of the Stephen W. Manchester Post 62 of the American Legion.

Co-grand marshals the past two years have been selected to represent Post 62 and Memorial Post 197, both based in Westbrook. Dennis Marrotte, Post 62 commander, said this year organizers decided to go with a couple as grand marshals.

“Nelson and Susan are not originally from Maine, but they have made Maine their home in Westbrook,” Marrotte said. “(They are) active community members in the Stephen W. Manchester American Legion Post 62, the Westbrook Rescue (Unit), participated in resident veterans events at Gorham House, always together as a congenial and active team.”

When they met, she was a sergeant sending and receiving encoded messages, and he was a specialist repairing teletype units.

She was signed up in the Army by the late Master Sgt. Blanche Kelly, of Westbrook, a nationally celebrated top recruiter.


They both looked back with some amusing incidents. She recalled being underweight when she enlisted, but the Army looked the other way. Nelson said that in combat training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, a drill sergeant ordered him to drive a Jeep while the sergeant hunted deer.

Nelson and Susan Graham met at Fort Monroe in Virginia while serving in the Army and were married at the post. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Susan was stationed stateside throughout her service. “I enjoyed my three years, four months and 12 hours and met people from all over the world,” she said.

Nelson was deployed overseas, first to the Japanese island of Okinawa and then to Thailand in Southeast Asia, where the post was adjacent to an Air Force base. He said aircraft returning from bombing runs over Vietnam would jettison bombs that weren’t dropped in the war zones.

“You could feel the ground shake,” he said.

While stationed in Thailand, he recalled listening on the radio to the famous boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in Lewiston.

Following his regular Army stint, Nelson joined the headquarters company of the 133rd Engineering Battalion in the Maine Army National Guard. He became a staff sergeant as a combat medic and racked up 10 years in the military.


The couple has each served as volunteer EMTs on Westbrook Rescue.

Nelson was born in Maryland and raised in Virginia, where he graduated high school. Sue was born in New Jersey and has lived in Westbrook since age 3; she graduated high school in 1963.

They have two daughters, two grandsons and one great-grandson.

Twenty-six years ago, the couple joined Post 62. They were selected in 2022 to go aboard a Maine Honor Flight together to Washington, D.C., where they visited the monuments – and they still have a photo book of the visit.

“They deserve to be honored and recognized as the 2024 co-grand marshals for Westbrook’s Memorial Day Parade,” Marrotte said.

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