Special Reunion

Group of Marines gather in Upshur County

The Inter-Mountain photos by Amanda Hayes Mike Wilson, state director of Bugles Across America, played taps Sunday to honor those members of the battalion who have passed way

BUCKHANNON — Every year for the last nearly dozen years, a group of Marine veterans have met yearly for food and fellowship.

This year that reunion fell in Upshur County where Marine veteran John Carr, of Tallmansville, has called home all of his life.

Carr, who served from 1960 to 1964, was assigned to the Camp Lejeune Base Motor Transport, Third Platoon First Battalion. It was there that he met one of his best friends, Vic Wilson, as well as others who would become like family.

This was the time period between the Korean Conflict and before the U.S.’s heavy involvement in the Vietnam Conflict. That meant many of the unit was there for a long period.

“We were stationed there approximately our entire four years,” he said. “It was like family. A lot of people join the service and go all over the world and don’t remember many they were stationed with.”

Left to right, are U.S. Marine veterans Blaine Gale, John Carr, Elmer Hertz, Les Hoffman, Vic Wilson and Dale Cunningham at Festival Fridays.

As base motor transport, that meant Carr’s battalion hauled troops and equipment where they were needed.

After Carr’s service ended, he kept in contact with Wilson and they have shared many memories over the years.

The two talk almost every other day.

“Fifty years of talking to the same guy, that gets old,” Carr joked.

But over time, the two looked for ways to reunite with their former Marines.

Wilson, who lives in Belmont, Pa., started looking on the internet and figured it out as he went.

“I had no idea how to do it,” he said. “I would type in a couple names searching and some days I would get as many as a couple hundred people with the same name. I would write all the phone numbers down and every day I would cross them off.

“I spent winter days when I wasn’t doing anything and I found quite a few of them,” he said. “It was just a matter of calling people.”

Sometimes Wilson would get lucky.

“It was pretty much a joy for me when I actually talked to somebody and asked if he was the right guy and it was,” Wilson said. “John and I kept in touch the whole time.”

Carr found one person but says Wilson found the rest for about 25 total.

Some had already passed but for those that were still around, they decided in 2008 to start holding annual reunions hosted in various places — Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania. The first one was held in West Virginia making this the second reunion hosted here.

Carr said he was glad to host in Buckhannon since he is not able to travel to many of them due to a disabled son.

“It’s really wonderful,” he said. “One guy had to go back already but the last time I saw him was 1963.”

And holding these reunions has become all the more special. Three members, Reggie Murdock, Larry Delaigo and Al Reay passed away since the last reunion. They join others the group has lost including Danny Spencer, Bobby T. Thurman and Sgt. Porter.

Others couldn’t make it like Jimmy Travis, Carl Moore, Kermit Mosser, John Ramsey, Robert Parrish and Robert Malik.

But when these annual reunions happen — and smaller reunions in between for those that live close enough — it truly is like old friends reuniting.

Wilson said, “It’s great. We meet and talk with each other to see what is new and we keep in touch. We are on Facebook.”

Carr has known David Taylor since he was born and Taylor worked on setting up the reunion in Buckhannon, some the Marine veterans greatly appreciate especially knowing that Taylor’s son, David Taylor II served in the U.S. Marines and then lost his life in Syria.

“He wanted to do this and his goal was to make this the best Marine Corps reunion we ever had and it worked,” Wilson said.

On Friday, the group attended Festival Fridays where Mayor David McCauley issued a proclamation in their honor. Saturday included live entertainment and meals at B&L Friendly Kitchen.

The reunion closed Sunday with a picnic at North Buckhannon Riverfront Park and live entertainment.

Wilson said, “It really was fantastic.”

Taylor said, “I am very honored to have been allowed to participate in the scheduling of events for these heroes who have served our country well. I’m exceptionally proud of our town and for the Americanism spirit that was displayed by our city and others who made this possible.”