Greetings from the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, Chapter CA-3. We continue to have monthly meetings. In October, at the meeting hosted by CA-3 Vice President Kathy Wright and Loyal Escort Angie Fredekind, we celebrated Halloween, with many members coming in Halloween attire. In November, hosted by CA-3 member Maggie Hart, CA-3 celebrated the Birthday of the Marine Corps, with the traditional cutting of the birthday cake by the oldest Marine present – Zita Cussary, who passed a piece of cake to the youngest Marine present – Bonnie Dabalos-Castro.
In December, we celebrated the holiday season at the holiday luncheon hosted by CA-3 members Lily Brockmeier and Bonnie Dabalos-Castro, complete with a holiday lunch, ornament exchange, and gift raffle. It has been the tradition of CA-3 to help make Christmas a little brighter for a Marine Veteran, or active duty Marine, and their family every year. This year, we chose a special Marine Corps Veteran – Montford Point Marine Veteran Joseph Alexander. Mr. Alexander was among the first African Americans to enlist in the Corps and attend recruit training at Montford Point Camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1943 at the age of 19. He fought to clear the Marshall Islands from the Japanese in World War II. Mr Alexander, his wife, and daughters were the guests of CA-3 at the Holiday luncheon. CA-3 joined with the Marine Corps League 1st Lieutenant Frank Reasoner Detachment 919 to take up a collection to present to Mr Alexander at the luncheon.
During this period, CA-3 President Susan Johnston participated in several events as part of the combined American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard. On November 2, we participated in the dedication of the new cemetery in Tracy, California – the Valpico Memorial Park. There will be a section set aside specifically for Veterans. During the dedication ceremony, the American Flag, along with each service flag, was raised to be flown continuously from this point forward. On November 8th, we were asked to participate in a flag retirement ceremony at the Montessori Elementary and Middle School. At the end of the ceremony, we took possession of the retired flags, to properly dispose of them. On November 11th, we took part in the “Day of Remembrance” ceremony at the Tracy War Memorial for Veterans Day. The names of those who fell in all past conflicts, from World War 1 to the present, were read off, so that we may never forget.
On Nov 2, 2019, several members of CA-3 attended the annual SOS Breakfast hosted by MCL Detachment 919. The event was held at the San Leandro Veteran’s Memorial Building. There were about 40 attendees and CA-3 managed to fill one table. The photo shows several of the CA-3 attendees. The Young Marines provided the Color Guard/Cake Escorts and the Sea Cadets served the meal. We had a special guest of honor at the breakfast – Mr. Joseph Alexander who was a Montford Point Marine and recipient of the Congressional WWII Gold Medal.
On November 8th, CA-3members Lynne Giadrone and Susan Johnston, and CA-3 Loyal Escorts Paul Giadrone and Donald Johnston, attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Veterans Administration clinics in French Camp, California. This is a project many years in the planning and will benefit those veterans who must now travel for hours for medical appointments.
On Nov 10, CA-3 member Kathleen Wright and Loyal Escort Vern Smith attended the annual Marine Corps Birthday Cruise along with approximately 50 other Marines from the San Francisco Bay Area. They had an SOS breakfast at the Benecia Yacht Club, boarded various cabin cruisers and rode up to the Vallejo Yacht Club where they had lunch to include a formal cake cutting ceremony. They also brought Toys for Tots donations and conducted a short session of close order drill which is always amusing because most of us have been out of the Corps for at least 25-30 years.
Susan also participated in Wreaths Across America on December 14. First, ceremonial wreaths for placed for each service, the POW’s/MIA’s, and Gold Star families. After the playing of taps and the firing of the rifles, the hundreds of participants all helped to place a wreath on the gravesite of each veteran, saying their name and thanking each one of them for their service.
Also, during this quarter, CA-3 President Susan Johnston participated in 7 Memorial Services/funerals as part of the combined Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion Honor Guard giving military honors to Veterans.
And, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce the passing of Nell Marie Forsey on November 5th. Nell Marie enlisted in the Marine Corps in February 1967, serving on active duty, Reserve duty and again on active duty until her retirement from Active Duty in the Fall of 1994. Nell Marie continued to be active, coming to almost every meeting. She was my co-host for meetings. Often, she brought her granddaughter with her. Her son, Clinton, is a Loyal Escort in CA-3. Nell Marie will be missed.