This is a story about a few Marines. Well, technically they aren't Marines any longer, but they consider themselves a part of that proud tradition of 237 years.
It's a story about the Harold G. Epperson MOH Detachment 1113 of the Marine Corps League.
Harold G. Epperson was a Marine who served during World War II and was killed on Saipan on June 25, 1944, giving his life to save his comrades. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest military decoration. Harold is buried in the Winchester Cemetery.
The Marine Corps League was formed in 1923, has more than 1,000 chapters in all 50 states and is composed of men and women who served or are serving in the U.S. Marine Corps or as Navy Corpsmen assigned to Marine units.
Members of Detachment 1113, which was formed in October 2002, mostly come from Clark, Powell, Bourbon, Nicholas and Montgomery counties.
The detachment's first commandant was former mayor Gene Kincaid, and current mayor Ed Burtner now leads the group.
There are 15 detachments in Kentucky, and Detachment 1113 is one of the most active. Containing approximately 48 members, it conducts bake sales each year to raise funds. It also sells drinks and other items at a booth at the yearly Pioneer Festival and Corn Festival in Powell County, and individual members make contributions as well.
With the funds raised, the detachment makes contributions to numerous worthy causes, primarily those that support military service personnel and veterans of military service. For several years, the detachment has donated more than $1,000 per year to the Relay for Life in Clark and Powell counties.
It also has made donations to the VA hospital in Lexington, to Marines Helping Marines, the Marine Corps Museum and to some individual members who have experienced difficult times.
The local Rowdy Golden Girls, who send packages each year to active duty service members of all branches, also have been the recipient of donations from this detachment.
Detachment 1113 also has an established honor guard that provides a military funeral service when requested for deceased veterans. In 2012, this Honor Guard performed at approximately 30 funerals. It also provides color guards when requested and can be seen each year at the kickoff of the local Relay for Life. This Honor Guard is ably led by Don Spicer.
Member Don Rose has been especially active in accumulating interviews with veterans of all services and has amassed some 160 interviews that are housed in the local library and in the Library of Congress, a living legacy of those who have served.
These old Marines, no longer lean and mean but still proud and patriotic, are the true epitome of the Marine Corps slogan: “Semper Fidelis ... Always Faithful.”
These fine gentlemen have served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and some in Iraq. Some simply served their time and never had to raise a hand in anger.
Now they gather together periodically in camaraderie, share their pride in having served, maybe tell a few “sea stories,” and try to make their communities a better place to live. They put aside their differences in religion and politics and share a kindred brotherhood.
Detachment 1113 is just a mirror image of hundreds of other similar detachments around the country, establishing a high standard of what community service means, and leading the way.
That’s what Marines have done for almost two and a half centuries.