No such thing as a former Marine

David Epps's picture

“A Marine is a Marine ... there’s no such thing as a former Marine. You’re a Marine, just in a different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life. But you’ll always be a Marine because you went to Parris Island, San Diego or the hills of Quantico.” – Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos

Anyone who doubts that statement only need visit the monthly meeting of the Clyde Thomason Detachment #1325 of the Marine Corps League that serves Coweta and Fayette counties.

Organized just three years ago with a handful of Marine Corps veterans, the detachment now numbers some 60 men whose service spans over six decades. Veterans from World War II (and there are three of them), Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and other conflicts come together as Marines to serve country and community.

The meetings, held the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Christ the King Church on Ga. Highway 34, open with a social time followed by the presentation of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer offered by the detachment chaplain (a Navy Corpsman and ordained Catholic deacon who served with the Fleet Marine Force), and then the Marines get down to business — and there is lots of it.

Last year, for example, the membership stepped up during the Toys for Tots program and, with the help of people and organizations from the community, the Marines delivered toys to over 5,000 children in the two-county area who otherwise might have had a bleak Christmas. They will do the same this year.

The Marines also perform the difficult duty of meeting the bodies of local servicemen who have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan when they are flown home to local airports.

Last Thursday, the chaplain, the local commandant, and other Marines met with and honored the family of a young lance corporal, a husband and father-to-be, who was killed in a helicopter crash.

This spring, the local marines will participate in numerous Memorial Day activities, and in other veterans’ observances, throughout Fayette and Coweta counties. And these tasks only scratch the surface.

May 18-20, the young detachment will host the Georgia state convention in Peachtree City, which will bring some 300 Marines from 26 detachments from across Georgia together for several days.

It will take a massive amount of work to pull off this event, but the Marines from #1325 will be there to do their duty. They have always been there to do their duty. That’s what Marines do.

General Amos finally made official what Marines have always known in their hearts: “There’s no such thing as a former Marine.”

Enlisted, officer, retired, regular or reserve, one tour of duty, combat veteran, or peacetime warrior, they are all the same.

“Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infinitas: Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever.”

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He is also a Marine (1970-73) and the Junior Vice Commandant of the detachment described above (www.MCL1325.net).]

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