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thedrifter
11-05-07, 07:07 AM
Rockland Marines gather for corps' anniversary
By AMISHA PADNANI
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: November 5, 2007)

POMONA - It was New Year's Eve in 1971. George Rath was aboard a ship heading for Pakistan. His mission was to evacuate the U.S. Embassy there and prepare for combat.


Suddenly, his crew received word that the mission was called off. So members of his crew turned around and went to a bar instead, where they were rewarded with one of the best New Year's Eve parties Rath had ever been to.


That was one of the many war stories former Marines shared with their comrades yesterday at Mount Ivy Pub, where about 300 people gathered to celebrate the 232nd anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps.


The √Continental Marines was founded Nov. 10, 1775, by the Continental Congress, said Frank Watkins, Mount Ivy's owner and organizer of the event. Every year, people around the world get together to celebrate the birthday. Watkins said he has been organizing events for the past 17 years on the Sunday before the anniversary.


"I enjoy doing this," Watkins said. "You can see the camaraderie that comes along with it."


As he walked through the bar, people shouted, "Hey Frank!" and offered hearty handshakes.


"Happy birthday," some called out to Watkins.


Watkins and co-organizer Jim Davis said the day started with a parade, in which Marines marched with brooms to simulate rifles.


"It brings back a lot of old memories because there was a lot of marching when you were in the Marines," Davis said.


Later in the day, the oldest Marine would cut the cake and pass a piece to the youngest.


People wearing uniforms and badges filled the bar and the surrounding area. Some were meeting fellow Marines for the first time. Others were greeting friends they hadn't seen since the last celebration. Most were sharing stories from the old days.


Frank Canariato of Franklin Lakes, N.J., the oldest Marine at the event, said he joined the corps in 1941, when he was 17.


"My older cousin was a Marine and I wanted to show him I could be a Marine, too," he said.


He said his most memorable moment was during the Battle of Guadalcanal. He was in a foxhole admiring a picture he had of a girl he had met in New Zealand. He called to a nearby fellow Marine to show him the picture and he joined Canariato.


"Moments later, a bomb dropped right in the hole where he (had been)," Canariato said, chuckling, with a twinkle in his eye.


Other stories were of more recent events. Richard King, a Navy officer, said he served in Iraq as a physician for the Marines in 2003.


The Congers resident said his mission was to make sure hospitals in Iraq were running smoothly by convincing Iraqi doctors that they would be safe at work.


King, 60, said he enjoyed serving his country and spending time with Marines.


"I love it," he said. "The reason I love it is there are so many members of this community ... who were true heroes and never got any recognition about it. I love to be in the company of heroes."


Sydney Germansky, 83, who uses a wheelchair, said he fought in Europe while in the Army and was wounded several times. He said he was expecting to receive the Medal of Honor and had already been named an honorary Marine.


"I'd rather have that than the Medal of Honor," he said. "They're the best."


Just then, his wife, Joan, brought steaming hot dogs, chili, mashed potatoes and warm bread - served up on authentic metal trays used in the service.

Reach Amisha Padnani at apadnani@lohud.com or 845-578-2484.

Ellie