View Full Version : Marines sample life at the Legion

08-15-05, 07:12 AM
Marines sample life at the Legion
Fun was the order of the day for Bossier City's Bravo Company.
August 15, 2005
By John Andrew Prime

A company-sized reconnaissance in force for Bossier City's Bravo Company, 1/23rd Marines, ended their first monthly drill since returning from Iraq on a fun note Sunday.

There were no casualties at a special "thank you" and family day staged by American Legion Lowe-McFarlane Post 14 on Cross Lake. But an hour or so into the event, it seemed that most of the 100-plus Marines present -- and a fair number of their wives, girlfriends and children -- ended up getting captured by the ambience of the lakefront hall.

"I plan to keep coming back," said Jacobie Richardson, a sergeant from Bossier City, who like most of the company members endured months of often intense combat. But for him, the appeal of the lake was secondary to "being with the older Marines. We saw a little action, but they saw so much. We're a very young unit, and they have so much life experience they can share with us."

Cpl. Sean McKamie and his wife, Katie, were in from Texarkana. With them were their three sons, 15-year-old Jacob, 12-year-old Joseph and 9-year-old Sonny.

"It's fun, but they need more kid stuff," said Joseph McKamie. His suggestions -- noted by Legionnaire Ed Jackson, part of a committee brainstorming ways to grow the post membership -- were a pool and a TV/arcade room with PlayStations.

Another suggestion from one of the first Marines inside was for a sandy area to play volleyball. That drew a laugh from Sean McKamie, who said he's one of the few Marines who doesn't play that much.

"But Marines love volleyball," he said. "That would be popular."

The day began with presentation of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, with combat "V" device to Sgt. Jose Delacruz of Dallas for heroism in November in the Fallujah peninsula. After a pair of roadside bombs detonated simultaneously, injuring his squad leader and a number of fellow Marines, Delacruz took command of the squad and led it through the night's action successfully.

U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery and his wife, Johnette, also paid tribute to the Marines, as did Liz Swaine, representing Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower, and Pam Glorioso, representing Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker. U.S. Sen. David Vitter was also represented by a staffer.

For the children, there was a carnival-style moonwalk outside, and the attraction of Cross Lake. The adults enjoyed the lake, too, and strolled the pier. Everyone ate barbecue and listened to music by a live band. There was lots of cold beer, too, which the Marines liked.

The family day was more than a thank-you for the Marines. Like other posts across the nation, Lowe-McFarlane has provided returning veterans with a paid first-year membership to introduce them to the American Legion. Faced like other veterans organizations with a graying membership, it hopes to entice younger people, and their families, aboard.

Maybe it will work. Pierce Cooper, 21, a lance corporal from Minden attending college in New Orleans and cross-training to join the Air Force -- he'd like to pilot B-2 bombers some day -- enjoyed his visit.

"This was my first time experiencing the American Legion, but I wasn't in the door three minutes and I met a variety of interesting people, all combat veterans who had life experiences I could now relate to," he said.


08-15-05, 07:17 AM
Marine reservist prepares to jump hurdle
Shayne McGinty, hero of Hit, will pin on major's leaves.
August 13, 2005
By John Andrew Prime

A Bossier City Marine recommended for a Silver Star medal for heroism in Iraq last fall will take a big step today.

Ronald Shayne McGinty will get the bronze oak leaves of a major in a ceremony at the Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Swan Lake Road.

McGinty will have his oak leaves pinned on him by his father, who served in the Marines four decades ago.

"I'm real proud of him," said Ronald Gene McGinty of Cotton Valley in Webster Parish. "Not only him, but all the guys in the unit and all the guys who are over there."

The jump from new captain to major is a huge step in a military career and one of the biggest gaps between promotions, typically six to nine years.

"It's a jump from the company grade officer ranks to the field grade officer ranks," explained Capt. Matthew Phillips, who served with Shayne McGinty in Iraq until November, when Phillips was badly wounded and was sent home to recover. Both are members of the Bossier City-based Bravo Company, 1/23rd Marines.

"It's the start of the upper echelon of leadership," Phillips said. "You begin not just leading Marines, but leading the leaders of Marines."

Shayne McGinty's action that led to his recommendation for a Silver Star was in the Iraqi city of Hit in October.

He and about 30 members of his weapons platoon held off a band of 200 to 300 terrorists in Hit, a settlement in the Al Anbar Province about 100 miles west of Baghdad.

Over the course of four days, the Marines captured and safeguarded a vital bridge, secured most of the town, killed or drove off the terrorists who had holed up in the city's main mosque and soccer stadium, restored control of the town to its elders and saved a puppy.

As with most Marines, part of Shayne McGinty remains with the people left behind.

In recent days, 14 Marines from Ohio were killed in separate attacks.

"Those guys who died, they were relieving us when we left," he said. "We worked with them approximately two weeks. I probably knew some of the guys who got killed there. We handed over our machine guns and mortar systems to them. So that could have been us. I saw that on the news and it hit me, hard."

Back home since the unit returned in late March, McGinty has returned to the pharmaceutical work he and his wife, Shaynon, both pursue.

The McGintys are expecting their first child in January. Boy or girl? Ask them in a week or so.

"We're going to find out on the 17th," he said. "We're really excited."

Shayne McGinty joined the Marines in 1989, not long after he graduated from Cotton Valley High.

"I'd see pictures of my dad in the Marines, and look through some of his old books when I was a kid," he said. "It was something I always wanted to do."