Semper Fi

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer November 13, 2012 11:09 pm

Fred Pate cuts birthday cake with ceremonial sword at Marine Corps Ball. The Pilot/Jane Stebbins
Fred Pate cuts birthday cake with ceremonial sword at Marine Corps Ball. The Pilot/Jane Stebbins
More than 150 Marines filled the ballroom at the Lucky 7 Casino Saturday night to honor the Calvin E. Murphy Detachment 578’s, Marine Corps 237th birthday; raise funds for Toys for Tots at its silent auction and raffle; and dance the night away.

Dinner – prime rib, chicken Parmesan or vegetarian lasagna – was served with potatoes, vegetables, rolls and salad and followed by a series of presentations in honor of those who died in the past year, new honorees, and the work of the numerous groups striving to keep the honor of the armed forces.

Music was presented by Gil Kirk to a floor of swirling dresses and starched uniforms.

The highlight of the night was recognition given to four men of eight who had donations made in their name toward the construction of the World War II Memorial in Salem. 

The eight included Marine veterans Alvin Ferry, Wesley Will, Fred Pate, Robert Kass and  Jean Burnett; U.S. Army veterans William Cochran, Beryl Davidson and Enos Muniz; and U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force veteran Maj. Robert Earle.

Kass and Davidson died earlier this year; it was discovered Monday morning – Veteran’s Day – that Ferry died the night of the celebration at the age of 89. Ferris was one of the charter members of the Detachment 578 and a lifelong resident of Gold Beach.

“The commitment of Detachment 578 Department of Oregon Marine Corps League to establish a WWII Memorial on the state Capitol ground in Salem is sincerely appreciated,” said Bob Gilmore, past commandant of the detachment, reading from a letter from Board President Louis Jaffe.

 “The gift will be used to build a beautiful memorial that honors Oregon veterans who served during the war as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”

To shouts of “Oorah!” – a Marine battle cry since the mid-20th century – another presentation honored Marines Ottis Dunlap and Gunny Al James for their service in the Korean War.

Dick Tylock, past Commandant of the detachment and senior vice commandant of the State of Oregon read the POW/MIA ceremony.

Those in attendance included members of the local Coast Guard Chetco River Station, the president of the Oregon WWII Memorial Foundation Lou Jaffe, State Rep. Wayne Kreiger, and members of the Brookings-Harbor Red Cross, Civil Air Patrol, Brookings Vietnam Veterans of America, and many others.

The birthday tradition also took place, with a large cake cut with a sword by 88-year-old Fred Pate – the oldest Marine in attendance – and a piece given to the youngest Marine in the room, 37-year-old Judd Anderson of Brookings.

Raffle items ranged from a $2,500 diamond necklace to gift baskets; silent auction items included a gun belt, blankets, gift certificates and baskets, jewelry, fishing equipment and books, among other items.

The raffle and silent auction raised about $2,500 for Toys for Tots. Additionally, the Smith River Rancheria and Lucky 7 Casino donated $1,000 toward the cause.