Haines honored Veterans’ Day Tuesday. And Monday, November 10th, was the U.S. Marine Corps’ 239th birthday. The Sheldon Museum held a celebration in honor of local former Marines along with other military veterans. Borough Manager Dave Sosa, who served in the Marines for 22 years, helped lead the event.
“Once a Marine always a Marine. I mean it helps me every day. Every single day,” said Mitchell McMahon, who joined the Marines when he was 19 years old and served for two years. “There’s never a day that passes that don’t I draw on something I learned then.”
McMahon was one of five Marine Corps veterans gathered at the museum, along with veterans from other branches of the military. They ate birthday cake together and shared stories.
“I don’t think there’s a day goes by you don’t think about it,” said Terry Enfield.
Enfield is a former Marine from Nebraska. He was in Haines for hunting trip. Enfield just happened to be here on the Corps’ birthday celebration.
“If you had asked an Army or Navy or Air Force [member], when’s your birthday? Nine out of ten probably couldn’t tell you,” Enfield said. “But Marines always know when their birthday is. It’s drilled into you in boot camp. Certain history is embedded in your head and you don’t forget it.”
Arthur Woodard is a 10-year resident of Haines. He served in the Marines from 1965-67 in Vietnam.
“I think fondly of the Marines, I think fondly of serving, but I don’t think fondly of our involvement in Vietnam,” Woodard said.
Woodard says he didn’t see the war that way until long after he left the Marines. But he’s still proud of his service.
Haines Borough Manager Dave Sosa left the Marines more recently after two decades of service, which included tours in Iraq.
“It was an incredible experience. I really loved being around the Marine…I was lucky enough to wake up every morning and say ‘It’s time to go to work!'” Sosa said.
Sosa says he suggested the museum hold a Marine Corps birthday celebration because of their front yard monument dedicated to Marines.
The other veterans here said they were glad to see Haines commemorating this date.
“I’m glad we’re celebrating the Marine Corps birthday because we haven’t observed it with much formality here,” said Navy veteran Mike Case.
Sosa hopes the Marine Corps birthday celebrations will continue in Haines in the years to come.
“It’s been really good being able to meet some former Marines,”Sosa said. “It just goes back to the words of Gen. Dunford, the current Commandant, it’s about remembering our past and looking forward to our future and any time you have the opportunity to bond with [other veterans] and learn from them and hear from them it’s a great opportunity.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to correct an error.