Van Wert area Marines joined together on Friday to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the Marines. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Van Wert area Marines joined together on Friday to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the Marines. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – For the second year in a row, a large representation of U.S. Marines gathered at the Van Wert VFW to spend an evening celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps. This year, Marines nationwide are celebrating their 242nd birthday.

Locally, Leslie Moser, who was a Marine sergeant for eight years, has initiated the Nov. 10 celebration.

“This is our way of celebrating the Marine birthday on or close to Nov. 10,” said Moser. “We used to drive a distance for birthday gatherings. We decided that we wanted to have something locally in the Van Wert area so we wouldn’t have to travel to Toledo or some other distant place to celebrate.”

“It is good to see such a good brotherhood/sisterhood turnout getting together this year,” continued Moser. “It gets me every time I look at these fellow Marines in the face and think about what they sacrificed for our freedom.”

Moser opened Friday’s birthday get together by stating the variety of backgrounds represented in the room.

“We have teachers, homemakers, a judge and people of all walks of life here,” said Moser. “Casually look around and see all of your brothers and sisters, all gathered together to celebrate the Marines in Van Wert.”

Moser noted the presence of other armed service branches represented including the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines that served in other branches.

“Just look at all of these Marines,” said Marine veteran Gary Martz. “This is outstanding; none of us could have done what we did without the support of other Marines, like the ones that are here tonight. I see lots of friends that have shown up here tonight. It’s so good to see them all.”

“This birthday celebrates 242 years of hard work, to think that every Marine put into it what they had to fight for our freedom and constitution,” noted Marine Steve Binkley.

Those present were moved by the presentation of Sidney native Marine Sgt. Darryl Cloud, who raised a large chunk of money for the Semper Fi Fund by riding bicycle from San Diego to Paris Island. Cloud spent 10 months researching, practicing and getting in physical shape before he undertook his generous project.

In the end, Cloud rode 2,668 miles over 10 states in 75 days and raised $79,000 towards the fund.

“The Semper Fi Fund takes a holistic approach for Kid’s Camp,” said Cloud. “One group of people we often forget about in combination with injuries is the children. All of the children that are in camp are children of Marines.”

The fund also provides action track chairs for those who need them.

Those who wish to give to the Semper Fi Fund can do so by mailing a donation to Operation Rebound, 735 Stratford Drive, Sidney, Ohio. 45365.