Marines celebrate birthday, gather for annual luncheon

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MANCHESTER — Pride and honor were flowing Saturday, Nov. 10, when several dozen Marine Corps veterans gathered for the annual Marine Corps luncheon at Garlic Johns.

The annual event has been held for well over 20 years but nobody fully remembers how long exactly.

Gedeon LaCroix, a 95-year-old Marine from West Arlington who served in the south Pacific during World War II and was part of the invasion of Iwo Jima where he witnessed the raising of the American flag from his foxhole, started the tradition more than a quarter of a century ago.

LaCroix handed it over to Donald Keelan, who has shepherded the event for the past 20 years or so.

This Marines enjoyed the camaraderie of their fellow Marines, shared some laughs and honored the service of their peers.

One of the changes over the years that several in attendance mentioned was that there were finally some women Marines in attendance.

Among the women who had served the Corps was Capt. Stacey Pesce who was with her husband Capt. Nick Pesce.

The Pesces separated from the Corps in 2015 after finishing their service together as recruiters.

Before that, Stacey Pesce served a tour in Afghanistan where she became part of the first Female Engagement Team and was the officer in charge of the FET.

She served a six-month tour in Helmand Province, where she helped establish Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan.

During an auction of a hand-made quilt, Mark Bullhardt of Shaftsbury, who served in Vietnam in 1966, outbid everybody and then presented the quit to the Pesce family, who included their children, Gianna, 12, and Rowe, 16 months.

At another table, three Marines, Nathaniel Boone, Bob Greenberg and Roger Preuss, swapped stories and told jokes.

Boone, of Manchester, is a Montford Point Marine denoting the first African Americans to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Boone was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012.

Boone's tablemates were Greenberg of Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Preuss of East Dorset.

At the end of the event, the cake was brought out and the oldest and youngest Marines in attendance cut the cake.

LaCroix and Stacey Pesce were given the honors and together they wielded a Marine ceremonial sword belonging to Greenberg to deftly slice the first corner piece.

The annual luncheon is held on Nov. 10 to celebrate the Marine Corps' birthday, which fits well with Veterans Day celebrated Nov. 11.

Contact Darren at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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