From corporal to commandant
Guy Mitchell, commandant of the Sgt. Clyde Thomason MOH Detachment #1325 of the Marine Corps League, turned the gavel over to new Commandant Jim Daughtry, Sharpsburg, after serving two elected terms.
It was over 50 years ago that Mitchell graduated from Sarasota High School. Some time later, convinced he was about to be drafted, Mitchell enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for a three-year hitch.
His tour with the Corps would take him to Parris Island, S.C., Camp Lejeune, N.C., Camp Pendleton, Calif., Okinawa, and Vietnam, where a war was raging. He completed his service as a non-commissioned officer and received his honorable discharge.
Mitchell later worked for American Airlines for 22 years and was promoted and moved around the country. He finished his college studies at Trinity College, Chicago. After American, he became involved in consulting, owning franchises, running a ministry and retiring twice.
Four years ago, he became a member of the newly chartered MCL detachment and, two years later, was elected the commandant. His accomplishments and leadership have been stellar.
During his tenure, the detachment doubled in membership and now has nearly 70 members. During that time, several programs have been added, including: the Marine of the Year, the Fallen Marine Program, the Eagle Scout Program, an expanded quartermaster program, a color guard, a local Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, and an expanded Toys for Tots effort that now provides toys to over 5,000 children each Christmas in Fayette and Coweta counties.
Whereas five years ago there was very little Marine veteran presence in local celebrations, now MCL members participate in a number of local communities in their Veteran’s Day activities, Wreaths Across America, Memorial Day activities, Sept. 11 observances, and July 4th celebrations. Mitchell himself was a Grand Marshal in the Peachtree City July 4th parade.
The Marine veterans continue to meet the service members who are killed in the desert wars (not just Marines) when their remains are returned to Falcon Field.
There are 27 MCL detachments in Georgia and the Clyde Thomason Detachment has won the prestigious Burkhardt Award for growth the last two years. The detachment has also received two national growth awards.
In 2012, the detachment hosted the Georgia State Convention in Peachtree City (a large task for a new detachment) and the success of that effort earned the detachment a Meritorious Unit Citation from the Commandant of the Department of Georgia.
The detachment has also excelled in giving to worthy causes. Within the last few weeks, the Marines gave $4,000 to the Semper Fi Injured Marines Fund, the Marine Corps League Foundation, the Fischer House Foundation (which aids the families of wounded warriors), the Coweta Habitat for Humanity as they seek to provide housing for veterans, and the Greater Atlanta Veterans Stand Down whose goal is to identify and assist homeless veterans.
Several detachment members have been elevated to state positions: Mitchell has been named a District Vice Commandant, Mike Foran has been named as the state Boy Scout program coordinator, Jim Daughtry was named the state Paymaster, and Mitchell, Daughtry, Tom Coursey, and David Epps were appointed or elected to leadership roles in the Military Order of the Devil Dogs.
Mitchell, of course, did not accomplish all of this alone, as he would readily state. Being a Marine is to be part of a team, but the type of leadership for that team is vitally important. Guy Mitchell is not a fiery leader wielding a whip. He is, however, a man who quietly and professionally leads by example, builds consensus, finds and selects extremely competent people to lead the various programs, and brings out the best in those who realize that there is no such thing as a “former Marine.”
Mitchell received a standing ovation and a Commendation Award at the November meeting for his service and leadership. Mitchell, who resides with his wife Donna Marie in Peachtree City, Ga., is the father of two, the grandfather of four, a Christian, and, after all these years, is still — and always will be — a United States Marine.
[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) and is the associate endorser for U. S. military chaplains for his denomination. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Sgt Clyde Thomason MOH Detachment is open to all honorably discharged Marines and FMF Corpsmen and meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Christ the King Church. There is a website at www.MCL1325.net.]