Lieutenant Colonel Craig Opel (USMC ret.), served 24 years in the United States Marine Corps, from 1976 to 2000. He entered the Naval Academy in 1972 as a midshipman and was commissioned a 2/LT USMC in June 1976.

During his career he served in all three Marine Expeditionary Forces, Headquarters Marine Corps, Marine Barracks 8th & I, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, the Naval Post Graduate School, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler Japan, Marine Corps Command & Staff College, and Marine Corps Systems Command.

Key assignments included Parade Commander at Marine Barracks 8th & I, being selected as the first “Data Processor” to command a Marine Communications Battalion, and serving as the Director of the Marine Corps Network Operations & Security Center.

Opel considers his greatest accomplishment being selected and serving as the Commander of 8th Communications Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. When asked about his biggest challenge, Opel jokingly says there were none: “In the Marine Corps, every day is a holiday, and every meal a feast.”

Since retirement, Opel has worked in a number of commercial capacities, including startups in Boston, Massachusetts, and Amsterdam, Netherlands. He also served as the Director of Communications for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Secretary of Defense Gates. Currently, he is a Senior Leader at APS.

Prior to joining APS in early 2015, Opel served as the Deputy CIO for NATO in Afghanistan and as the CIO for the USO.

He jokes that serving in the military is the “family business” – his father was a Navy Commander in World War II, his grandfather was a soldier in World War I, two uncles were in the Navy, and his two sons are both active-duty Marine officers.

Opel lives in Phoenix with his wife of 41 years, Peggy. In addition to their two USMC sons, Kyle and Ben, they have a daughter, Stacey.

We hope you will join us at the 21st Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2017, to see all our Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “SILENT SACRIFICE: Honoring Our Cold War Veterans.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE.