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thedrifter
01-22-06, 08:07 AM
Breakfast with Marines
By SEAN MAXFIELD, DAILY SUN
Villages Daily Sun

LEESBURG - Ten-hut! Breakfast is ready!

Visitors were greeted with a smile and an invitation to chow on Saturday morning at the Marine Corps League building in Leesburg.

Serving breakfast is just one of many ways that the MCL helps the local community. After diners have had their fill of delicious biscuits and gravy, washed down with a cup of coffee or orange juice, they are invited to shop around at a flea market in the same building with loads of interesting items that can include records, clothes and cool knickknacks. All money raised aids the MCL in its endeavors that help the community.

Villager Bertha Bazinet, aka B.B., was helping with breakfast in the kitchen. She usually helps with events for the MCL.

“(I) have a good time here,” she said. “I love coming here. They got me out of my shell. I've met all new friends.”

Bazinet is an honorary member of MCL. She got involved with the organization through a sewing friend and she likes the way MCL cares about people.

“That comes from the heart,” she said.

Bill Nelson, a Marine, decided to come and see what the breakfast was all about. He wasn't complaining after eating biscuits and gravy with his wife, Florence.

“Good,” he said.

George Horsford Jr., quartermaster with MCL, said the League helps the community by assisting at the Gainesville VA hospital and providing things like socks, cards and books to the patients; assisting in the purchase of a bus to transport veterans to the VA hospital; collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program; sponsoring a golf tournament in October; handling individual requests for veteran assistance; and helping students with scholarship funds.

Horsford said the MCL also has an honor guard, a firing squad for all veterans funerals and does flag presentation ceremonies for community groups and parades.

“We march in four or five parades during the year,” he said.

Their 2005 Toys for Tots drive helped collect more than 28,000 toys for children in approximately 1,150 families.

“We were very successful,” Horsford said.

Terry Cannon, past commandant for the MCL, said Toys for Tots is a primary mission for the Marines. It helps Lake County and surrounding areas, even buying extra toys to supplement the contributed ones for the Toys for Tots drive.

“This year was our best year thus far,” Cannon said.

He thanks people for their support.

The money they raised from Saturday's breakfast and the flea market will go toward the Toys for Tots program also.

“This is how we raise funds to do those things,” Horsford said.

But being in the MCL is not just about giving. It is also about a sense of camaraderie. Villager Rick Bowling is the commandant with the league and he said they have breakfast once a month. Their detachment has been in Leesburg for at least 15 years.

“It's a good place to be,” Bowling said.

His motivation to join was mainly for the opportunity to play in the MCL's band, where he plays taps and beats a drum for other events to keep cadence.

“I have a blast down here,” Bowling said.

He said that once you are a Marine, you remain a Marine always.

Bowling said anyone can join the MCL, as long as he is a Marine, no matter what shape or form, you're in. He has seen or met guys who have been through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and even the Iraq War. They usually meet at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of every month.

Cannon said that unless you've been a Marine, you don't know what it's like. He likes the camaraderie of the MCL.

“The Marines are a special group,” he said.

Sean Maxfield is a reporter with the Daily Sun. He can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9303 or sean.maxfield@thevillagesmedia.com.

Ellie