ONCE A MARINE: Richard Clark stopped by last week to encourage all veterans of the Marine Corps to join up with their comrades through the local chapter of the Marine Corps League.
The Bob Swanson Detachment No. 1102 of the league meets at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at the Mount Jewett Veterans Memorial Club. An exception to that is the month of August, when the group will meet on Aug. 7 — the first Monday — to lay plans for participating in a parade.
The local detachment was named for Bob Swanson, a Marine who later became a state trooper and was stationed at the Kane barracks. Swanson was one of the founders of Detachment 1102, along with John Moffett.
Swanson passed away before the local detachment’s charter was approved in 2002.
Dick — he goes by that rather than Richard, but we didn’t want to confuse anyone by calling him that right off the bat — reminds us that Marines consider themselves Marines for life, rather than calling themselves “former” Marines after their active duty ends.
“They drill that into you from boot camp on — once a Marine, always a Marine,” Dick said.
That’s why he’d like to see more participation in the local Marine Corps League, which he says has about 60 members, including one female Marine and a Navy corpsman, who is eligible by virtue of Naval medics’ service to the Marines.
Speaking of always a Marine, Dick has been one since 1945, when he served in the Pacific during World War II before he was discharged after the end of the war in 1946. The league is running a bit low on World War II-vintage Marines, he said. He’s one of only three left in the group.
“We’re losing a lot of the older guys,” Dick said.
The group visits Marines in hospitals and nursing homes, performs military honors at funerals, has a color guard that marches in parades, and generally does anything a fellow Marine needs.
Dick is justifiably proud of his 68 years as a Marine, and shared with us a copy of a thank you letter he received after his discharge that was personally signed by President Harry S. Truman. He said he had forgotten about it and rediscovered it several years ago while he was going through some old papers.
He had toured the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., in the 1990s and enjoyed its collection of World War II memorabilia, so he offered to donate the original.
The library authenticated the Truman signature and added it to the library’s archive with a letter of thanks to Dick and an offer to show it to him or any of his relatives at any time.