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thedrifter
04-02-06, 05:44 PM
Always a Marine
By: JOHN HUNNEMAN - Staff Writer

Good Sunday morning to you. Don't knock the breakfast served at Camp Pendleton's bowling alley until you try it.

Minutes before the ceremony at Camp Pendleton began Friday, the soft rain that had been falling stopped.

"These guys are good," I said to myself.

As the retirement ceremony for Lt. Col. John A. Randall III of Temecula got under way outside base headquarters, two companies of U.S. Marines were called to attention.

The Marines all were young. However, most had a chest full of medals that served as a reminder of where they had been in their time in the Corps.

Then with family, friends and neighbors looking on, Randall was honored for his 28 years as a Marine.

John Randall received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1978 and served a tour of duty on Okinawa before being assigned to Headquarters and Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton. He left active duty in July 1981 and joined the Marine Corps Reserves.

Over the next several decades, his reserve duties took him around the world. Those duties also took him away from his wife, JerriLynn, and their son, John Randall IV ---- the family moved to Temecula in 1986 ---- on many occasions.

Randall was recalled to active duty twice, in 1990 for Operation Desert Shield/Storm and in 2002 for Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom.

When not on duty, Lt. Col. Randall teaches U.S. history to juniors and U.S. government to seniors at Paloma Valley High School.

In addition to serving our country, the Randall family has quietly served this community in many ways.

"I was the Cubmaster and my wife was the den mother when our son was in Boy Scouts," he told me.

Randall was also the treasurer of the Vail Elementary School PTA, and when their son played in the band at Temecula Valley High School, it was dad who drove the equipment truck from event to event.

A musician himself, Randall has played the French horn in the Valley Winds Community Band for many years and is also involved with the local arts council, historical society and American Legion Post 852.

"We really love Temecula and we try to support the community every chance we get," he said.

He may do all those things, but on Friday, John Randall was, first and foremost, a Marine.

When it was his turn to speak, he turned to his family and thanked them, his voice pausing and quivering, the words he wasn't able to get out meaning as the much as the few he could.

Then he spoke to his other family.

"This has been an amazing run," he said looking at the young Marines before him. "To those of you just starting out, 28 years isn't that long ---- just take it one day at a time."

As the last strains of the Marines' Hymn faded from the loud speakers as the ceremony concluded, the rain began to fall once again.

"These guys are really good," I thought.

Contact columnist John Hunneman at (9951) 676-4315, Ext. 2603, or hunneman@californian.com.

Ellie