Nick Parnello, known as Blackjack 6, is a Vietnam veteran who woke up one morning with a dream still in his head. “We need to replace all the worn, torn, and tattered American flags from sea to shining sea. We’ll start right here in Rockford and see where we end up.”
Nick was also concerned about the high suicide rate among veterans – especially younger veterans – and he saw that a veteran-centered organization dedicated to replacing American flags would be a great way to bring younger veterans together with older veterans for some fun, public service, and camaraderie.
So Nick enlisted a bunch of his friends, mostly Vietnam veterans, the Smoke Brothers, some Afghan and Iraqi veterans, and a few civilians.
Nick told Airborne, one of the Smoke Brothers, about his idea, and Airborne said he knew where they could find the truck they needed. It had once been owned by “Red” Nicholson of Nicholson Electric. Now it belonged to Red’s grandson, Sergeant Navy. He and Nick struck a deal, and this wonderful old 1989 Chevrolet boom truck came out of retirement and began a new life.
It wasn’t too long before they realized that a great truck needed a great name for a great mission, and they named it The Glory Truck.
The Glory Truck has lots of friends
In March of 2020, four Smoke Brothers were raising a new flag at the Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall. Nick and Sergeant Tango got talking with the service manager about flags and other things, including the fact that The Glory Truck needed new brakes. Next thing you know, Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall stepped in and saved the day. Thanks to our friends at Lou Bachrodt, The Glory Truck’s brakes are now like brand new.
Sergeant Tango, Blackjack 6, Sergeant Navy, and Captain Ken finished up the work on the flag pole, and now there’s a brand new 12 x 18-foot American flag proudly flying over the Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall.
It was a beautiful day, and Nicholson Electric’s big boom truck, the USS Big Red One, was on-station with The Glory Truck. The Big Red One is named after World War II veteran, Electrician’s Mate Orman “Red” Nicholson, the longtime owner of Nicholson Electric – and Red’s grandson, Sergeant Navy, who is now the owner of Nicholson Electric – as the tradition of helping others continues.
Later that day, they raised Old Glory for a woman who had hoped for years to get a new flag in her yard. The Glory truck came to the rescue. Another job well done.
The guys drive The Glory Truck around the Rockford area, and when they find an American flag that needs to be retired and replaced they do something about it. They might pull in and do it right then, or may make a note of it and come back later. But as they say, “We’ll get ‘er done.” One day, The Glory Truck might be replacing a flag, and the next day, it might be at a school, teaching kids the history of our flag.
We are grateful to our friends at Rockford Spring Company, Rockfish Auto Body Shop, Bove’s Garage, Nicholson Electric, the Rockford Register Star, Signs Now, TV stations WREX, WTVO, WIFR, and WQRF – and many others.