By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Region – “Once a Marine – always a Marine” was repeated and confirmed by local members of the Marine Corps League, proudly declaring their continuing commitment to the service that changed the direction of their lives. They join together in camaraderie and fellowship for the purpose of preserving the traditions and promoting the interests of the U. S. Marine Corps, and enjoy it.
Frank Muise of Marlborough, a veteran of the Korean War, is one of the regulars.
“We swap war stories and reminisce about the days when we were Marines,” he said. “But most of all, we get together to laugh, have fun, and discuss ways we can help those who are now serving in the Marines and older ones who may need assistance.
“We call our local group ROMEO – Raunchy Old Marines Eating Out,” he said laughingly. “We meet for breakfast about once a month and look forward to getting together.”
They all enjoy fund-raising for the many programs sponsored by the National League, especially the Scholarship Program for children and former Marines in the Metrowest area. Korean War veterans John Callow of Marlborough and Dave Berry of Sudbury are members of the Scholarship Committee and take pride in helping raise funds to support the program.
Ed Silveira of Hudson actively participates in the Wounded Marines Program.
“It's great that we help those wounded Marines who are in rehab and we try to support a lot of veterans when they return from Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said. “We also go to [Fort] Devens when recruits are leaving for combat duty. We collect cigars and show our appreciation to them as they go to serve our country. We all also help with the Toys for Tots program during the holiday season.”
Bruce Cameron of Natick, a former insurance district manager who has been a member of the Marlborough Rotary Club for many years, is a member of the local group. He served six years in World War II and a year in Korea.
“We did a lot of island-hopping in and around Hawaii through the years,” he said. “We also have visited many bases – Camp Pendleton, Pensacola and everybody's favorite, Parris Island, where we all did our basic training.”
In 2007, Muise, Berry and George Barr of Arlington spent a week at Parris Island, S.C., where over 60 years ago they underwent basic training. They stayed on the base, had meals at the Officers Club and observed the soldiers. They said the physical training seemed to be much more rigorous than it was in the “old days.”
Chris Rembetsy of Marlborough serves as chaplain of the Natick Detachment. His chief responsibility is to inform military personnel of the passing of Marines, so other soldiers can pay their respects appropriately and participate in ceremonial events, as required.
“I enjoy getting together with my fellow Marines, talking and joking. We are all closer than brothers and enjoy each others” friendship,” he said.
He attends monthly meeting at the Natick Detachment headquarters and keeps track of all personnel changes or additions.
The league has developed and administers a program that provides a physical fitness regimen that promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle for elementary and high school students. They also sponsor a popular youth program called Young Marines of the Marine Corps League, which is funded by Congress and the U.S. Marine Corps. It emphasizes honesty, courage, respect, industry, and focuses on drug education and prevention.
League members perpetuate the traditions and spirit of all Marines and Navy corpsmen who have worn the eagle, globe and anchor of the Marines and enjoy doing so. Semper Fi.