The Calvin E. Murphy Detachment 578 Marine Corps League 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball and Toys for Tots Raffle and Silent Auction was, according to attendees, the premier social event of the year for the Brookings-Harbor community.
Marine Corps League Commandant Bob Gilmore and Senior Vice Commandant Fred Pate honor Vietnam veterans at Saturday’s Marine Corps ball. The Pilot/Glenn Robert Woodfin
Saturday, Nov. 12, the Elks Lodge was filled with festively dressed participants who enjoyed an evening filled with tradition, patriotism, special awards, dancing, dining, music, laughter, and maybe even a few tears.
Commandant Bob Gilmore, serving as master of ceremonies for the evening, reminded attendees that the ball also serves as a “Special Salute to our Vietnam War Veterans,” and to support Toys for Tots to provide a happy Christmas to many children in Curry and Del Norte counties. According to Gilmore, this year’s event raised approximately $1,600 for toy purchases.
Following Gilmore’s introduction of Exalted Ruler of the Elks Lodge Dustin Wesel, Past Commandant Dick Tylock was invited to the lectern to read the POW/MIA Ceremony.
This year the red rose, usually presented to women who have been widowed during the year, was presented by Marine Corps League Detachment 578 Senior Vice Commandant Fred Pate to widower Bob Basham, acknowledging the loss of his wife Mary Lou.
Detachment Chaplain Dick Weber gave the invocation, followed by Gilmore’s enthusiastic suggestion, “Let’s eat!”
Following a happy round of applause in appreciation of chef Christine Dreifuss and her crew for the dinner, Gilmore began an introduction and welcome for special guests, including members from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Chetco River, Oregon State Rep. Wayne Kreiger and wife Colleen, National Vice Commandant of the Marine Corps League John Woods and wife Sylvia, former Oregon State Rep. Walt Schroeder and wife Sally, Curry County Commissioner Bill Waddle and wife Sandra, and former Curry County Sheriff Kent Owens and wife Rexine.
Perhaps the most moving part of the celebration is always the Chapel of the Four Chaplains – two Protestants, a Catholic, and a Jew – who gave up their life jackets and their lives to go down arm-in-arm aboard the U.S.S. Dorchester in 1943 in the icy waters off the North Atlantic.
This year the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award was presented to Dave and Sharon Hitzman and Mike Noonan in appreciation for their major volunteer work and fundraising to support community services throughout the community.
Following that presentation, Gilmore announced, ”We have a distinguished group who will make some very special presentations.”
Woods and Pate presented Certificates of Appreciation to all Vietnam era veterans in attendance.
For this year’s cake cutting ceremony, honoring the oldest and youngest U.S. Marine in attendance, 89-year-old Gene Barnett, as the oldest Marine, took the first bite of the first piece and then offered it to Al Granadas, as the youngest Marine at the ball.
Of course the evening would hardly be complete without honoring all veterans in attendance. Accompanied by music appropriate to the branch of service, all veterans were asked to stand when their branch, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Air Force was being honored.
Gilmore requested, “Now, let’s have a moment of silence for all of our service men and women who are again today defending our right to be free. Remember freedom is not free.”