Local Marines help one of their own
Friday, September 17, 2004

Watertown Police Detective Mike Munger and Newton Police Detective Billy Byrne, members of the Marine Corps League, Shutt Detachment, along with the Semper Fidelis Society of Boston, raised $34,000 in a fund-raiser to support Lance Cpl. James Crosby, a Winthrop native who was paralyzed from the waist down by shrapnel while serving in Iraq.

The money, raised at an Aug. 19 event held at The Rack in Boston, will help pay for living expenses for Crosby, who is a patient at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Roxbury. Crosby cannot be discharged from the Marine Corps until he is discharged from the hospital, and is currently receiving only his regular Marine pay. Crosby, 20, is married; his wife lives in Saugus.

In March, Crosby was hit by mortar shrapnel. Since then, he has been paralyzed from the waist down, and has undergone multiple surgeries to repair damage to his abdomen. The good news is that Crosby has recently gained some movement in the upper part of one of his legs, meaning the paralysis isn't complete, said Munger.

"He's just a nice young kid. He's constantly in pain. He's really a courageous and strong kid to put up with his attempts to walk again," Munger said.

Munger said members of the Shutt Detachment had read about Crosby's story, and his determination to walk again, in a Boston Herald article. In it, Crosby said he wanted Marines to visit him at the VA Hospital, so Byrne organized a group from the Watertown detachment to drop in on Crosby.

"We found out how in dire need he was of financial assistance and just moral support, and it just blossomed from there," Munger said.

The Marines made Crosby a member of the Shutt Detachment, and planned on holding a fund-raiser at the Mount Auburn Street headquarters. But someone knew someone at The Rack, and the Fanueil Hall club and pool hall offered up use of the premises, plus a DJ, publicity and food for 500 people to help out the cause. The Shutt Detachment enlisted the Semper Fi Society to help out, and by the date of the fund-raiser, about 1,000 tickets were sold. Between 600 and 700 showed up to the party, including Rep. Edward Markey, D-Malden, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston, former Boston Bruin Lyndon Byers and Crosby and his family.

The Shutt members will try to raise more money for Crosby at the Marine Corps birthday celebration at Oakley Country Club on Nov. 10, and are trying to get the military to expedite Crosby's discharge so he can obtain veteran housing, Munger said.