MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, our Marine Corps predecessors have fought our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.
It is this gallant group of military retirees who have carved the legacy of the United States Marine Corps in the rock of this country’s foundation, and it is we who carry on their banner of history.
All military service retirees, family members, widows and active-duty personnel within 2 years of military retirement were recognized during the Camp Lejeune Retiree Appreciation Day held at Marston Pavilion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 18.
“Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Vietnam – those are the things that make this (eagle, globe and anchor) what it is today,” said Col. Daniel Lecce, commanding officer of MCB Camp Lejeune. “(The retirees) earned it and we carry it on.”
Commencing on a beautiful Saturday morning, Marston Pavilion was a mixing pot of wars past and old memories. A man who advanced up the ashen ground of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima sat next to a man who stormed across the sandy desert during the initial drive into Iraq.
“It’s amazing when you look out at the audience,” said Randy Reichler, retired affairs coordinator for the base. “There’s a roomful of history today, and the least we can do is thank them for all they’ve done.”
Navy Capt. Daniel Zinder, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, also recognized what such retirees went through, and said it was important to take care of them in return for their dedicated service.
“This country and military was built on those who have gone before us, and the last thing I want is for them to feel abandoned after all they have done,” said Zinder. “Unfortunately, one of the areas they feel abandoned in is the availability of medical screening and treatment, which is why the hospital always holds a health fair during this yearly event.”
After the speakers concluded, there was an NHCL health and wellness fair, which had free medical testing services ranging from blood pressure checks to skin cancer screenings to proper nutrition information.
Also during the event, the Whitey Welbourne Award was presented to retired Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Joy, commander of the Disabled American Veterans association, Chapter 16, Onslow County. The Whitey Welbourne Award is presented to a retired military member who most consistently provides service to active-duty personnel, retirees, widows and their family members.
“We’re out here for the veterans and their families,” said Joy. “After what they’ve done for us, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for them.”