written by Julie Robinson
World War II Vet, Former New York Cop and then Head of New York State Police Put the Troopers in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade
William Connelie, 96, former superintendent of the New York State Police and World War II veteran, changed history 40 years ago by adding the New York State Troopers to the line of march for the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. At age 21, Connelie volunteered to join the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and served for four years before coming home to New York.
“I served a year in combat in Guadalcanal. Afterwards, I trained navigators on the B-29, a brand new bomber and the biggest one they had,” he noted. When Connelie returned, he joined the New York Police Department to continue to serve and protect his nation. “After the war, I wanted a job where I felt like I was making a difference. Becoming a police officer was the right choice for me,” he said. Connelie rose through the ranks from patrolman to assistant chief inspector, along the way receiving 13 citations for bravery and meritorious service during a 30-year career. During his years as an officer, Connelie was asked to march in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the NYPD Emerald Society. “I always enjoyed marching with the NYPD Emerald Society. Both of my grandparents were immigrants from Ireland, and I know it made my family proud,” he said. Connelie joined the New York State Police as Superintendent in 1975. The next year, Gov. Hugh Carey was the Grand Marshal for the parade. Connelie knew it was only fitting that the State Police march alongside him. “I spoke with many people in the committee and luckily, it didn’t take too much convincing. We marched with Gov. Carey that year,” he said.
Connelie continued to march in the parade alongside the state troopers until his retirement in 1983. “I watched the parade a few times on Fifth Avenue since then. It never got old,” he said.
But he regrets that he must watch the parade on TV, rather than attend this year. Adding State Police to St. Patrick’s Day Parade –
The New York State Police have continued their involvement in the parade and onlookers can watch them march again in the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17. In a now long-standing tradition, the NYPD and State Police celebrate the conclusion of the parade with a lunch together. “We march together, and celebrate together after the parade. What could be better than that?” he asked.
This year’s Grand Marshal is Michael J. Dowling, a native of County Limerick, and President & CEO of Northwell Health. This year’s Parade honors Catholic Charities and the New York State Police, which both are celebrating their 100th anniversary of helping New Yorkers in need. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is broadcast live on WNBC-TV 4, Friday, March 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Here is a clip of the New York State Police in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
For further information about the Parade, please visit NYCStPatricksParade.Org or contact the Parade office at PO Box 295 Woodlawn Station, Bronx, NY 10470, Telephone 718-231-4400.