Pilot story and photos by Marge Woodfin

The 229th Birthday of the Marine Corps was once again celebrated with pomp and pageantry at the Elks Lodge in Brookings Nov. 13, hosted by the Marine Corps League, Coos-Curry Detachment 578.

This year's birthday ball also included surprise awards for three special Curry County people who were recognized for above-and-beyond service to the communities.

Those receiving the certificates of honor were Dori Blodgett, children's librarian at the Chetco Community Public Library; Dick Tylock, former Marine and longtime member of the detachment, who is also Cape Ferrelo assistant fire chief; and Timothy Brueckner, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Gold Beach, where he is known for his service to that community.

The awards are presented each year during the ceremony honoring the Four Chaplains, two protestant ministers, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi, aboard the U.S. Dorchester during World War II, who chose to give up their life jackets and go down with their ship, together.

The birthday celebration began with a welcome from Bob Gilmore, Commandant of the Department of Oregon Marine Corps League and Coos-Curry Detachment 578, who served as master of ceremonies for the program.

The birthday ball also serves as a fundraiser for Toys for Tots, with all proceeds going to provide Christmas presents for young children in the community that might not otherwise receive gifts.

Following the POW/MIA Ceremony, Chaplain Sarge Piper presented the invocation and dinner was served, with choices of prime rib, chicken, or salmon.

When the program resumed, Gilmore presented honored guests and spouses, including Butch Harron, Exalted Ruler of the Brookings Elks Lodge; Judge Richard K. Mickelson; State Representative Wayne Kreiger; former Curry County Sheriff Kent Owens; Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom, City Manager Leroy Blodgett; and military personnel.

As a proud father, Gilmore also introduced his daughter Jody and her husband Mike.

Gilmore announced, andquot;This ball is dedicated to our dear friend and former retired Marine Major Joe Ochsie who passed away last month.andquot;

The toast to Ochsie was given by Dick Weber, who also read a letter from his nephew, the Executive Officer of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, United States Marine Corps Major General Joe Weber, which provided news of activities of military personnel in Baghdad.

Former military personnel of all branches of the service were asked to stand as their branch song was played.

Gilmore reminded the guests as they prepared for a moment of silence for all of the men and women who are serving today, andquot;Remember, freedom is not free.andquot;

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps Inspection and Instruction Staff from Eugene handled the presentation of the colors and the cake-cutting ceremony.

The young Marines, including one young woman, were good sports about being offered as dance partners at $5 per dance to raise additional funds for Toys for Tots.

The dancing and results of the silent auction rounded out the evening, and photographs of the ceremony and individual guests and couples were taken by photographers from The Photique of Crescent City.

The counting is not complete, but Gilmore said they believe they will have somewhere between $1,500 and $1,800 for Toys for Tots.