Friday, September 19, 2003


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Solemn day gives way to Marine Corps celebration

By Karen Sanborn

KITTERY - Darby Healey stood somberly in the frigid, blustery air at John Paul Jones Park Saturday morning.

As the Seacoast Detachment of the Marine Corps League fired three shots into the air and set a wreath in front of the Marine memorial, tears crept from her eyes as she remembered her father.

J.T. Jenkins was his name. He served as a Marine for 30 years and was a prisoner of war for four. Healey still wears his dog tags, rectangular and gold in color.

She recalled how her father told her the tags kept him safe when he was taken prisoner.

Healey said her father helped start the Seacoast Detachment. He died before he ever saw the park’s memorial.

"He was proud to be part of this group," Healey said. "And I was proud of him."

Healey was one of a small group who gathered to watch the Marine Corps League honor wounded and departed Marines. With Marines dressed to the nines in red jackets and blue pants, the ceremony also marked Corps’ 228th birthday.

Commandant Frank Wisinski read a tribute to express "gratitude and pride to those who fought for the preservation of life."

Former Gunnary Sgt. Vic DiSilvestro set a wreath in front of the memorial, then saluted it. After a brief prayer, a six-gun salute cut through the air. Taps was played as the Marines stood at attention.

After the ceremony, Corps members stopped to reflect.

"This is a very significant event," said Wisinski, who served from 1957 to 1961. "The motto of the Marine Corps is to continue the honor the dignity, the bravery, the courage and the patriotism. Most of all, this is for fallen Marines and many who are disabled, for all those who have made a sacrifice on behalf of this country."

Ray Maher, a Marine from Hampton, served from 1969-1974. He believes the Corps is one of the few military organizations that celebrates its birthday each year.

"I think it’s just the brotherhood that makes the Marine Corps," Maher said. "It’s ‘once a Marine, always a Marine.’ That about sums it up. It never goes away."

The Marine Corps League members looked forward to the evening ball, held on Saturday evening.

Healey remembered how her parents looked forward to the event each year.

"When I was a child, I used to watch my parents get dressed up for the ball," Healey said. "My dad in his blues and my mom in a fancy dress. That was the big deal."


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