View Full Version : Picayune couple has three sons in Marines, one in Persian Gulf

03-29-03, 09:51 AM
March 27, 2003

Picayune couple has three sons in Marines, one in Persian Gulf

By Will Sullivan
Picayune Item

PICAYUNE, Miss. — Word spread rapidly that Amy Formby, an English teacher at Picayune Memorial High School, has three sons in the Marines and that all three were in the Persian Gulf.
Formby said that fortunately for her, only part of that is true.

“I don’t know if I could have taken it with more than one son over there,” Formby said, though she expects her sons by her first marriage will be in the region of the war in the near future.

All three of her sons are in the U.S. Marine Corps, but only one, Jesse Secondine, the middle son, is in Iraq. He shipped out for Kuwait on Feb. 2.

Brent Secondine, the youngest, is at home on medical leave, but likely only for a short while longer, and the oldest, Tony Secondine, is at his base in South Carolina waiting on the birth of his second child in May and for the pilots in his squadron to certify in a new aircraft, the F-18 Super Hornet.

“They kept telling me, ’It’ll be OK, Mom, it’ll be OK.’ The first few days (after the war began) were really rough. Friday, especially, was bad. Saturday, we (she and her husband Ned Formby) thought we would do something different and we washed the cars.

“I have been away from TV for a while now, and maybe it’s better that way,” Amy Formby said.

They also have been to a barbecue where there was no television and have done other things to avoid the news.

With even one son in Iraq, “Every time I hear the Marines have been in a battle, my heart is in my throat,” she said, “but the saying that no news is good news is best, I guess.”

Jesse and Brent are reservists, members of A Company, 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion, based in Gulfport. The unit drives armored personnel carriers unique to the Marine Corps called AmTracs, because they are amphibious tractors designed for beach assault, among other duties.

However, Jesse, an AmTrac crew chief and a corporal, has been detached, along with five others from his Gulfport unit, and sent to the 5th Platoon of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.

Brent, a private first class, is an armorer, which is a specialist who maintains and repairs the unit’s mix of firearms.

Tony, a sergeant and avionics specialist, is an active duty Marine with five years of service attached to Fixed Wing Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in Beaufort, S.C., as a crew chief. He was on the USS Harry S Truman on its maiden voyage to the Persian Gulf when his first child was born.

He and his squadron would be on the Truman now if not for having to certify with the new aircraft.

Having all three of her sons join the Marines “wasn’t my choice,” Amy Formby said. Their enlistment was the result of a promise made at the graveside of their grandfather, to whom they were very close, she said.

Amy Formby said her family is a military family. Besides her father’s military career, she had three brothers also go into the military.

“For our family, it’s part of a rite, a coming of age,” Amy Formby said.

Their maternal grandfather, Jack Harlow Armstrong, was a Marine, and later joined the Air Force from which he retired, and the boys wanted to be like him.

“He always said he grew up in the Marine Corps,” Amy Formby said.

She said husband Ned thought he had all three boys talked into joining the reserves rather than enlisting in the active duty Marines, but while Ned Formby was on a trip to Australia, Tony Secondine enlisted in the Marines for a four-year hitch. He has been in for an extra year as the result of being involuntarily extended by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the Iraq crisis.

“He’s talking right now about re-enlisting,” Ned Formby said.

Ned Formby said he has been using the Internet and other tools to follow Jesse Secondine as best he can.

He believes his middle stepson was involved in early fighting against Iraq forces at an oil pumping and separation station near the oil fields in Southern Iraq, which the Marines moved on quickly to prevent Iraqi forces loyal to Saddam Hussein from setting the wells on fire as had been done to Kuwaiti oil wells in the first Gulf War.