Marine Corps 242nd anniversary observed

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MANCHESTER — Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Generations of Marines observed the 242nd anniversary of the founding of the Corps on Friday. Locally, it was marked with a luncheon at Garlic John's in Manchester attended by more than 30 veterans and their family members.

The annual event brings together, in one place, Marines who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and more, according to organizer Donald Keelan.

One local Marine who had attended each year was Ted Toole, a World War II veteran who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions off Tinian. Toole died last December and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

"My dad would really enjoy coming here," said his son, Kevin O'Toole.

O'Toole spoke to attendees on Friday about traveling to Arlington, Va., in August for the funeral services. Seeing wave after wave of the more than 400,000 graves was deeply emotional, O'Toole said.

"You'd have to be made of stone not to be moved," he said.

A "Corps of Marines" was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress on Nov. 10, 1775.

"Since that date many thousands of men have borne that name, Marine," Gen. John A. Lejeune wrote in the first message to the corps in November 1921. "In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history."

Restaurant co-owner Frank Shattuck is a Marine himself, having served in Vietnam.

Brent Filson read this year's message from the Corps' commander, Gen. Robert B. Neller.

"Through every major conflict our nation has seen since the revolution, Marines performed their duty with utmost courage, devotion, and raw determination," Filson read. "Their valiant deeds in the face of overwhelming challenges give us confidence and inspire us to meet the trials of today."

At places like Trenton, Tripoli, Khe Sanh, Fallujah and many others, "Marines have fought with an inner spirit — a spirit that bonds us, binds us together as a cohesive team," he read.

The oldest participating Marine was 94-year-old Gedeon LaCroix, a lifelong local resident who helped start the annual reunion. LaCroix was an intelligence scout with the Marines and served at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima during WWII.

Filson and William Nichols, both 36 years old, were the youngest Marines in attendance.

Ian Maier of Manchester, a senior at Burr Burton Academy, played Taps.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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