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My Kid Brother Was A Marine

 

November 27, 2019

1944 was a life-changing year for me. My baby brother came into the world weighing a whopping 10 pounds. He was named Jay Lloyd after his two grandfathers.

My brother was born with four definite attributes. He is funny, tough, has a tender heart and is stubborn.

It was the stubbornness that got him into the U.S. Marine Corps. When our dad refused to help him get a motorcycle, he became a leatherneck.

By the time he graduated in the class of 1962 from NBC high school, I was married and had my first child. It was just three months later that he departed for Parris Island. On that sunny early autumn day, he left the whole family a bit teary eyed.

Earl Slick, a school buddy, and my brother, two Morrisons Cove farm boys, arrived in North Carolina by train. They were greeted by a master sergeant who told them, rather loudly, they were going to undo what it had taken their mommies 18 years to do.

By the time he got his first leave, my family had just moved into our new home. I received a phone call telling me Jay had a ride with his lance corporal and would need to be picked up in Breezewood about midnight. My husband accepted that task while I prepared the spare room. The next day was typical for Pennsylvania late winter, cold and gray. The two of us plus my baby daughter surprised our parents at the farm. Despite the weather, the sun shone brightly for all of us.

Following basic training, he passed the necessary clearance and went to Pensacola, Florida. From there, it was Adak, Alaska, and then Okinawa.

Adak was boring, allowing him to get a job setting up pins in a bowling alley. He made so much money he sent it home for a bank account. In Okinawa, fun reigned supreme and he bought that much-wanted motorcycle and depleted the savings.

While I do not like tattoos, I always admired the one on my brother's arm, USMC. He earned every letter. He was lucky in that he missed Vietnam by just a few months and when honorable discharge time came, he took it.

About the Marines

A few weeks ago, we took a mystery bus trip and ended up in Quantico, Virginia, at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. What a treat that was. There are displays and computer-style setups of Marine battles from every war beginning with the Revolutionary. One of the most moving exhibits to me was a setup of the recruits arriving at Parris Island being yelled at by the sergeant. The pictures of these young men and women reminded me of my brother and his friend when they arrived at Parris Island in 1962. These kids are from farms, inner cities, small cities, and villages across the country.

We had a chance to watch the movie "Making a Marine" which was so moving we all had tears as we left the theater. While much has changed since my brother became a Marine, a lot has stayed the same. One of the changes is the training of dogs to go into battle. Animal-lover me found that to be particularly fascinating.

My only complaint about our visit: it was too short. I really hope to get back for an encore. Getting to know more about Marine training was very educational and certainly gave me a lot of respect for the kid brother who chose this branch of the service when he couldn't get a motorcycle.

National Cemetery

Following our visit to the museum, we toured the Quantico National Cemetery where any military man or woman can be buried at no charge. The cemetery is located on land that was part of the U.S. Marine Corps training base adjacent to Quantico in Prince William County. The land has been used by the military for more than 200 years.

A section of this cemetery is dedicated to the "Missing in America Project." The intention of this nonprofit corporation is to locate, identify and intern the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans. The project was launched nationwide in January 2007.

If an unclaimed cremation urn of a veteran is located in a funeral home or elsewhere, it can be brought to this beautiful resting place where a military service will be held and the deceased will receive a headstone designating his or her branch of the service and other personal information.

The lady who was our guide told so many fascinating stories about the soldiers who are buried here and how it came to be. We even had a chance to place flags on any grave we chose.

It was a very informative and worthwhile trip. I must admit it gave me a new admiration for those years my brother spent in the Marine Corps. I hope all the veterans of the Cove and surrounding areas had a wonderful Veterans Day. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these outstanding men and women who so unselfishly gave of their time and talents for their country.

 

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