MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Heads turned and eyes lit up as two Marines in dress blues made their way through the halls. With each step, a wave of pride swept over those who saw them their presence was like a beam of light in a room full of darkness. When the Marines passed by, a few watching were on the verge of tears. Others just sat back in their chairs and smiled
The impact Sgts. Sean A. Doherty and Larry D. Rich had on the occupants of the Georgia War Veterans Home Sept. 21 was evident long before either Marine said a word to the veterans who live there.
Ive heard it said that Ive served my time in hell, said Jay Atkins, World War II Marine veteran who spent time on Iwo Jima. Now, all Atkins wants is a chance to share his experiences with someone who can relate to him.
It [visiting the veterans] has a big impact, said Doherty, a native of Casagrande, Ariz., who works in the S4 office at MCLB Albany.
Being a brotherhood the Marine Corps we feel that we are all a family. Whether we are still in, or have gotten out, we still need to support each other, talk to each other and pass on the times from the old Corps to the new Corps.
A lot of people dont know what these veterans went through, he said.
The Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, Ga., is a home where veterans of the U.S. military are allowed to live at no charge.
A lot of these veterans havent seen service members for a long time, said Rich, a Dundee, Fla., native and motor vehicle operator here.
I went the first time (to the home) to give my thanks for the things theyve done for everything that the veterans have been through so we could be free today, he said.
According to Rich and Doherty, a lot of the veterans just want to know that they are remembered, and all of them want to share their experiences.
Did I serve in a conflict?, repeated Johnny W. Garrette, Navy veteran, when asked if he had ever been in battle. Not according to the government. But according to me, I served in the Vietnam War, he said.
Garrette was the individual responsible for asking Marines from MCLB Albany to visit the center.
I talked to a former Marine [in the facility] not too long ago, said Garrette.
He said he felt like the Marine Corps let him down all he wanted was for a Marine in full dress blues and sword to come up to him, shake his hand, and tell him that he was important that he wasnt forgotten. That never happened, and the gentleman died shortly after our conversation.
After that incident, Garrette contacted the Marine base.
Rich and Doherty took care of the details, and shortly thereafter, nine Marines went on a trip to the home.
I feel magnificent when the Marines come to see me, said James L. Holliman, who was medically discharged from the Army in 1952.
The 61-year-old veterans face brightened at the sight of the men in uniform.
One veteran was so exited, he couldnt speak, he just smiled and shook the Marines hands.
It makes you think that not only were people injured, but people died. It made me think about those people too. It made me twice as proud to be a Marine, said Doherty.
Rich agreed, going to the veterans home really can make a difference to a Marine.
Two more trips to visit the veterans are currently scheduled, one for lance corporals and below and one for staff and senior enlisted personnel.
Were going to try to get the band up there, that is something they ask about every time we go.
Rich and Doherty plan to visit the veterans home at least once a month, taking Marines of all ranks.
For more information, call Doherty at 639-5132/6123 or Rich at 639-7361/5614.