Marine Corps celebrates another year

Event held to honor 243rd military anniversary

REEDSVILLE–Marine veterans and their guests gathered at the Reedsville Fire Company Saturday evening to celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the Marine Corps.

The event was hosted by the Juniata Area Detachment No. 687 of the Marine Corps League.

Following Marine Corps tradition, the detachment offered rum punch and had a birthday cake ceremony.

The rum punch, originally created in 1775, is the beverage Marines use to make toasts. It contains rum, lime juice, grenadine syrup and maple syrup.

Two marines escorted the cake to Bruce Getgen, who cut the cake with a Non-Commissioned Officer sword.

After the cutting, the cake was presented to the oldest marine present, Carl Dressler, of Mifflintown.

At 93 years old, Dressler served during World War II. He was wounded during his time in Iwo Jima and also served in Guam. For his service, Dressler has been awarded two Purple Hearts, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

The piece of cake was passed to the youngest marine present, Ricky Wert, of Belleville. Wert served in the Cold War and was awarded the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation Medal, the Navy Unity Commendation Medal and the Cold War Service Medal.

The passing of the cake signifies transference of experience and knowledge from the oldest marine to the youngest marine.

Instead of a keynote speaker, the detachment invited attendees to share stories from their Marine Corps experience.

Ralph Talarico began.

“I entered boot camp in 1976 in Paris Island. We, in the first battalion, lived in Quonset huts. After the second or third day of being told what we were going to do and how we were going to do it, a comrade told me he had to get out of there; he couldn’t handle it. I told him to talk to the drill instructor,” he said.

Talarico said the two men arrived at the hut and his friend knocked on the door, receiving no response. He knocked again.

“The drill instructor yelled, ‘We can’t hear you!’ The poor guy said, ‘Well, how do you know I’m out here?'” Talarico laughed. “All I saw were six hands reach out and drag him inside. I just kind of backed away. That was my introduction to the Marine Corps in Paris Island.”

Lou Stouch recalled a time he received a letter with lipstick on it. His drill instructor directed him to pocket the letter, and then eat the envelope, which Stouch did.

In 98-degree heat, Paul Carden had to dig a six-foot-by-six-foot hole to bury a matchbox-sized “coffin.”

Herbert Sheibley said, “I was hoping to get an education when I got in, so I signed up for four years because I thought that would give me a better chance. When I finished boot camp, I worked with teletype and switchboards in San Diego.”

With 11 months left in his service time, Sheibley was directed to go to Vietnam. However, after discovering his short time left with the marines, officials changed their minds.

They sent him to work with an experimental system designed at Johns Hopkins applied physics lab in Baltimore.

“Myself and six other marines were to help with this, and it was called a navigational satellite system,” Sheibley said. “It was designed for the army, but the army didn’t want to go out on the desert. We did all our field testing for six months. That system now is called GPS, so I was one of the first seven people to ever test GPS.”

Keith Quigley recounted overhearing a drill instructor complaining that the cigarette lighter in his ’57 Ford did not work. Quigley requested permission to speak and ultimately fixed the drill instructor’s lighter.

“One of the funniest things,” he continued, “was one morning we were lined up and the drill instructor came out, and he said pleasantly to us, ‘Good morning, maggots!” It was so funny I almost guffawed. Had I done that, I would now be deceased.”

Bruce Nielsen recounted a time when a general inspection was scheduled. To prepare, Nielsen and his comrades cleaned every inch of their platoon.

“The windows were clean; there’s nothing left that they could find,” he said. “Little did we know, we had a major come in to do the inspection. He took the globe of the light down, but could not find any dust because we had taken a dry paintbrush to clean it.”

After the major was unable to find anything out of place, Nielson said the major directed them to present their shaving kits. The major discovered stubble in the double-edged safety razor.

“This is why marines are somewhat nit-picky at home,” he said. “To this day, my wife looks at me and asks, ‘what are you doing?’ And I tell her I’m cleaning my double-edged razor.”