Military personnel and the public celebrated the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps during a ball at the Brookings Elks Lodge last weekend.
The event, hosted by the Calvin E. Murphy Detachment 578 of the Marine Corps League, included a slew of honors, a keynote speech, a prime-rib dinner and a dance to music performed by Gil Kirk.
The festive occasion began on a somber note as Dick Tylock, past commandant of the detachment, stood in front of a lone table set for a meal and paid honors to Prisoners of War and soldiers Missing in Action.
The honor was followed by the playing of “Amazing Grace” and a presentation of a rose to Bobbie Anderson and retired Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Weber.
Following the dinner, Commandant Bob Gilmore introduced dignitaries, including service personnel, both retired and currently serving, past and present government officials and service organization officials.
Highlighting the evening was the presentation of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor. Receiving the honors were John Brazil, Harbor fire chief, and Dan Palicki, former Brookings police officer and Safety City founder.
The Four Chaplains were four U.S. Army lieutenants who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship SS Dorchester sank on Feb. 3, 1943, during World War II.
They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
The Legion of Honor Award programs publicly recognizes and honors outstanding members of society whose lives model the giving spirit and unconditional service to community, nation, and humanity.
A U.S. Marine color guard presented the flags followed by a presentation by keynote speaker Weber.
Following his speech, Weber and his wife, Brenda, were presented gifts. In exchange, Weber brought gifts from his hometown in Texas and presented them to Fred Pate, the oldest Marine attending.
Of course, there was birthday cake. The first pieces were cut with a sword and, following tradition, the first slice went to guest of honor, Weber, followed by the oldest Marine, 93-year-old Pate, a World War II veteran, and the youngest, 19-year-old Cpl. Matthew Haynes.
This year’s ball was dedicated to Pate, who after 20 years with the league, is leaving Brookings.