Gilmer deflected the personal honor and volleyed the gratitude back to the North Webster Lions Club members, who made the selection.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with me, but more to do with the institution I represent, including all service branches,” he said. “This is a direct reflection on how well renowned the Lions are throughout the state.”
Gilmer’s kudos extended to the entire community.
“It’s admirable how extremely patriotic and supportive the community is.”
Gilmer, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., as senior NCO over 130 paratroopers, will arrive in North Webster the Thursday before the parade and will leave the following Sunday.
Born in Plymouth, Gilmer and his family moved to Warsaw when he was a high school freshman. He graduated from Warsaw High School before joining the service.
He underwent basic and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., where his duties included rifleman, team leader and weapons squad leader.
Gilmer was then assigned to collect battlefield intelligence in a long-range surveillance unit, serving as assistant team leader, reconnaissance team leader and platoon sergeant.
He served two 12-month stints in Iraq, where his company set a record by being the farthest unit behind enemy lines in U.S. military history.
Upon his return, Gilmer taught a reconnaissance surveillance leaders course and was selected to participate in the 25th annual Best Ranger Competition, one of only 50 soldiers chosen for the honor.
Gilmer then went on recruiting duty in Kokomo and Fort Wayne. He recruited hundreds of soldiers, was named Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year by two different groups, was awarded the Training and Doctrine Command physical fitness award and was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, the most prestigious NCO fraternity in the Army.
Gilmer requested a transfer to Fort Bragg, where he served as scout platoon sergeant for a parachute infantry regiment. His performance led to his selection to a detail that provided security to ambassadors, senators and the secretary of defense during a year-long deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan.
His list of accomplishments in military education and training includes air assault school, jumpmaster school, leaders courses, Secret Service training and U.S. Army Ranger School, among others.
Gilmer has been awarded more than two dozen medals, including the NATO Service Medal, five Good Conduct Medals, three Meritorious Unit Awards, a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He has also earned nine other decorations.
His wife, Rachel, and their three children (Jacob, 19; Morgan, 14; and Nathan, 8) live in North Webster, but will join him at Fort Bragg later this summer. Their elder son, Jacob, graduated from Wawasee High School and plans to enter Grace College in the fall.
To read First Sergeant Gilmer’s bio, visit www.mermaid-festival.com.