Thursday, April 23, 2009

Veterans adopt 1,200 Marines in southern Afghanistan

April 17, 2009
Story by: Lance Cpl. Monty Burton

DELARAM, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – “Once a Marine, always a Marine” is a phrase often heard around the Marine Corps, but several dedicated Marine veterans, coined “The Moss Creek Marines,” have taken the phrase to a new level.

The Moss Creek Marines are a group of 35 veteran Marines and Navy corpsmen, and Marine spouses and parents from eras ranging from WWII to the Gulf War, one of whom saw both flags raised on Iwo Jima in World War II. The group focuses on “adopting” and showing its appreciation to Marine units deployed to combat zones.

Not forgetting their roots, the Moss Creek Marines adopted the 1,200 Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. The South Carolina-based organization sent 3/8 a total of 87 care packages, worth several thousand dollars, that included eight Xbox 360 videogame consoles, telephone calling cards, toiletries, candy and snacks, DVDs and letters from children with whom the Moss Creek Marines have interacted in the past months.

The Moss Creek Marines have previously adopted 12 other units in Iraq, but 3/8 is the first unit the organization has adopted in Afghanistan.

Lt. j.g. Jason DiPinto, the 3/8 chaplain, said the care packages are much appreciated and will be of great use not only to the Marines currently deployed, but also the Marines who will soon replace 3/8.

“The care packages are great because the Marines are in extremely difficult situations, and with the packages and gaming systems, it gives the Marines an opportunity to release some of the stress that is often acquired while in a combat zone,” said DiPinto.

The battalion’s plan is to distribute the packages among the austere forward-operating bases and combat outposts located in southern Afghanistan.

The Marines are excited about the Xbox 360 gaming consoles.
“It’s always good for the morale of the Marines to have some form of entertainment in a combat zone,” said Cpl. Michael Shupack, an assistant security chief with Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, whose detachment of Marines are also benefiting from the donated items. “It’s hard for us to personally thank those who have supported us, but it goes unspoken. We definitely appreciate everything they have done for us.”

DiPinto said the deployed Marines and sailors appreciate the patriotism and thoughtfulness of the veteran Marine organization.

“It is an honor to be able to walk on the path that these veterans have paved for us,” Dipinto said. “Their contribution means more to us than words can describe. They have gone above and beyond their call of duty to ensure the Marines and sailors who are deployed have all they need to carry on the legacy of our forefathers.”

Alan Calderon, the commanding officer of the Moss Creek Marines, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War, explained in his own words why his organization feels it is important to support deployed Marines.

“On behalf of all of us in the Moss Creek Marines, thank you for all that you do to maintain our freedom,” Calderon said. “We all know that freedom is not free. God bless America and God bless the Marine Corps.”
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