Marine Corps League steps up to honor the sacrifice of a wound Rancho Cucamonga Marine
San Bernardino County Sun
Marines take care of their own whether it's on the battlefield or homefront.
And members of the local Marine Corps League, Sgt. Major Jack G. Chalcraft Detachment No. 965, which meets at Cable Airport in Upland, take that sentiment to heart.
The Marine Corps League is an organization for all Marines who have served their country honorably. The League dates back to 1923 when World War I hero then Maj. Gen. Commandant John A. Lejeune founded the group. It became official in 1937 and since that time group members have done all they can to uphold the proud Marine traditions.
Part of that mission is to help all Marines in their time of need. When the group heard about injured Marine Cpl. Justin Crabbe from Alta Loma, it knew it wanted to help, but the question was how.
"I've been reading all about how much the local community is helping Justin and his family. I knew we would want to do something, too, but what was the question. With all of us being his fellow Marines we had to get involved some way," said Bob Larson, retired Marine who served in Korea and who is the paymaster at the local Detachment.
The community has conducted numerous fundraisers and a dedicated group of businessmen and contractors are remodeling the Crabbe's Alta Loma home. Those efforts are designed to accommodate the young soldier who lost both of his legs above the knees and several fingers in an Afghanistan bomb blast in August 2011. The Los Osos High School
graduate and Purple Heart recipient is finishing up treatment and rehabilitation at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.
The answer about how to help came to the group -- honor Justin's service by serving others.
Larson and his wife recently went to breakfast at the Kick Back Jack Caf . He noticed that the Rancho Cucamonga restaurant is participating in the Banquet Table of Life fundraising campaign where patrons can add the cost of a meal to their bills. Proceeds then are given to the Riverside and San Bernardino Counties Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides food to 400,000 people a month through soup kitchens, afterschool programs and shelters. The region's food bank is part of the Feeding America network.
Since the food bank deals in volume, money donated to it can purchase a great deal of items. For example, a $1 donation actually translates to about $25 worth of food. Larson liked the idea.
When the possible food bank proposal was presented to the local Detachment, members agreed it would be fitting to honor Crabbe by making a $2,500 donation. Larson contacted Crabbe's mom, Maureen, who is with her son in Maryland.
"What an honor that you would like to make this donation to the local food bank in Justin's name," Maureen Crabbe said. "I can tell you that he will absolutely appreciate that someone else is benefitting from this. All he keeps saying it that he was only doing his job and he is fine."
Maureen Crabbe said her son remains in good spirits and is looking forward to coming home for good within months.
"It will be so awesome to get him home for good," Maureen Crabbe said in an email.
She said she has been touched beyond words about the treatment she and her family have received from fellow Marines.
"The Marine Corps has stated that they are here for us, not just Justin. They have included our whole family in the Marine Corps family and they have been with us every step of the way. The network of people I have met and continue to meet are awesome. I know that the support will be there and the brotherhood of the Marine Corps is strong and cannot be denied. I am one very proud Marine Mom who has been blessed first by getting my son back alive and second by allowing my son to thrive. The next step will be to get us all home together again where we all belong in beautiful California," Maureen Crabbe said.
Thom Gates is the commandant of Detachment No. 965, which was established in 1996 in Rancho Cucamonga.
"We exist in order to uphold the values and fraternity of the Marine Corps. And we exist in order to preserve those ideals after separation of service," Gates said. "We want Justin and his family to know we are Marines for life."
The Detachment believes in the motto, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine." These dedicated men and women meet in order to support each other, the community and active military personnel. It supports the program called Young Marines, which is a coed one similar to the Boys Scouts that involves young people 8 years old to 17 years old. All the tenets of the Marines are taught including discipline and marching along with camping skills. There is no combat training.
The Detachment also conducts its own Toys for Tots holiday campaign for local children. It participates in the annual Chino Air Show and routinely helps where it can.
Each April, the Detachment honors the memory of its members in a memorial service.
To date, the group has lost 16 of its own.
The group is banding together to recognize the 237th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The Detachment is hosting a ball on November 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Ontario Masonic Lodge. The keynote speaker will be Earl Phares, an associated member of the Detachment who was the youngest crew member who served on the USS Pueblo and who along with his shipmates were prisoners of war held by the North Koreans for 335 days.
Ticket donations are $35 per person with proceeds to go to the group's yearly Christmas toy drive for local youngsters. Those attending are asked to bring a wrapped toy, as well. All active duty Marines in uniform are invited as guests of the Detachment.
The fundraising event is open to the community. Reservations are needed before Nov. 4.
The Detachment has invited Crabbe and his family to the Marine Ball, but Justin and Maureen will be traveling home from Maryland. Justin will be medically discharged hopefully at the end of November. Larson said he hopes other family members might make it or if not for this event, possibly for the Detachment's annual Christmas party.
Larson said the Detachment remains committed to helping Justin and his family in whatever way it can. The public is invited to participate in the Detachment's food bank donation.
For more information about the upcoming Marine Ball, the Detachment or honoring Justin for his service, send an email to email@example.com.