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Military mom who surprised son to be parade grand marshal

Memorial Day parade marks 40 years with women’s theme

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 13, 2019

 Air Force Master Sgt. Hope Morphew has been  picked to be the parade’s grand marshal this year.

Air Force Master Sgt. Hope Morphew has been picked to be the parade’s grand marshal this year.

Photo provided by Hope Morphew


STERLING HEIGHTS — May 27 will be a special day for Air Force Master Sgt. Hope Morphew.

It will be her 41st birthday. It will mark the anniversary of when she came home from Iraq. And it will also be the day that she leads the Sterling Heights Memorial Day parade as grand marshal.

“It’s a huge honor, not only to be asked to be the grand marshal, but to represent a lot of women throughout all the branches of the military,” she said.

The parade, now in its 40th year, has the theme of “Celebrating and Honoring Women in the Military” this year. Morphew earned local attention and headlines last fall when, upon coming home from a deployment, she surprised her second-grade son with her return by greeting him at Harvey Elementary School.

Morphew, 40, from Shelby Township, said she plans to retire this year from the Air Force. Her current unit is in the 127th Air Refueling Group at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

She serves as an executive administrator who is on staff to the group commander. She added that her career extends over 23 years, including a deployment to Iraq during the war in 2004.

While her job has taken her “all over the world,” it also has involved demanding work, like having to take endless phone calls even while off duty, she said.

“I’ve had a lot of memorable moments,” she said. “While I was in Iraq, I received the Unsung Hero award for the jobs that I do for the top three enlisted ranks in the Army and Air Force that were on that base in Iraq with me.”

Morphew said the most rewarding daily part of her military service is to support the men and women of her unit “and know that if they need something done, that I’m one of those people.” She also discussed what Memorial Day means to her.

“It comes down to — whether you’re a person that agrees with a war or you don’t agree with a war — these are men and women that have selflessly signed a blank check up to the amount of their life, and this is something that we can never repay them for,” she said.

According to city officials, the Sterling Heights Memorial Day parade tends to be one of the most attended public events in the city, apart from the Sterlingfest Art and Music Fair.

Citizen Services Specialist Sue Giallombardo explained why the city picked Morphew as the grand marshal.

“One of our Art Commission members saw the news clip of her surprising her son,” Giallombardo said. “I think it just seems to flow this year with all the news (about women’s issues). We’ve never highlighted the women in the military.”

Giallombardo said the parade will keep in step with its typical patriotic events.

A 9 a.m. observance ceremony will be held near City Hall and will feature the Motor City Blend Chorus, which is listed as a chapter of Sweet Adelines International. The 1st Michigan Colonial Fife and Drum Corps is also set to make an appearance, Giallombardo said.

At 10 a.m., the parade will start at the Richard J. Notte City Center, 40555 Utica Road, and head southward along Dodge Park Road until reaching Heritage Junior High School, near Metropolitan Parkway, city officials said.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2489.