Service in Marine Corps inspires author
By CORI URBAN | MassLive.com | Published: April 23, 2020
(Tribune News Service) — With a vocation as a certified public accountant, Thomas W. Hebert says his avocation is writing fiction.
And, his service in the U.S. Marines Corps is the single most important motivation behind his latest book, an illustrated novel titled “The Remains of the Corps: Ivy and the Crossing,” the first of a six-volume set.
“The United States Marine Corps has been a household name for generations. True to the lyrics of its official hymn, the corps has fought its country’s battles in the air, on land and sea for more than 200 years,” he said. “For many, serving in the corps has been and continues to be a ‘family business.’”
In his book, the fictional family — the Remains (an anagram for Marines) — are one such family.
Told by a third-generation Marine and Vietnam veteran, Will Remain, the saga begins with his grandfather Kenneth Remain, born in Worcester and educated at Harvard College. They and other members of their family are Marines, but there is more to their stories.
Writing under the pseudonym “Will Remain,” Hebert’s primary purpose in using it was to have the story be told by a member of the fictional Remain family. (Will Remain is the grandson of Kenneth Remain, the Volume I protagonist.)
“I also didn’t want my writing to be about me, but about the corps and those who have served in the corps,” he said. However, readers — Marines in particular — wanted to know who was writing about them, so he was convinced to add his name and biography to future printings of all editions.
Besides being an anagram for Marine, “remain” is a synonym for endure, prevail, persist and commit — all things Marines have a reputation for, he explained. He chose the given Will because as a verb it expresses the future tense as in “I will remain committed,” he explained. “The fictional Remain family (three generations) ‘remains’ committed to the Marine Corps.”
Joining the Marines in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War, Hebert followed the footsteps of his father, William G. Hebert — a pressman at the Springfield Newspapers for more than 40 years — who served in the corps during World War II and fought on Iwo Jima. “He sang the Marine Corps hymn so often over the years that I began singing it as well,” Hebert recalled.
As soon as he graduated from college, he signed up. He became a first lieutenant and served from 1968 through 1971, including in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971.
“I love the Marine Corps and am forever grateful to it. It shaped me for a lifetime,” he said. “Writing a six-volume story about Marines is my way of giving back, and, hopefully, doing my small part to perpetuate the Corps’ legendary status.”
Illustrated by Tara Kazmaier, “The Remains of the Corps” is intended for adults, but young, mature adults could benefit from its themes of patriotism, heroism and friendship, said the author of “Once An Eagle: A Reader’s Companion” and “Notes on Once An Eagle,” two non-fiction books.
But he cautions: “It does contain the rude language that Marines are wont to use.”
Hebert, who now lives in East Windsor, is chief financial officer at Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation in Agawam.
He was born and raised in Chicopee and graduated from Cathedral High School in Springfield 1964 then earned a bachelor’s degree in business management with a specialty in accounting from American International College in 1968 and a master’s in professional accounting from the University of Hartford in 1980.
He expects the second volume of his series, “The Remains of the Corps: Belleau Wood,” will be published in about two years.
“The Remains of the Corps” is, first and foremost, an epic literary endeavor; I couldn’t pay true tribute to the Corps with anything less,” he said.