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Covella Pond rededication: MCLB Albany officials pay tribute to Marine hero

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | January 8, 2016


Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Covella Pond was rededicated during a solemn ceremony held in honor of late Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Covella, Jan. 8.

Covella was mortally wounded while serving as an advisor to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam, Jan. 3, 1966.

The base pond was officially named after Covella and marked with a bronze plaque mounted on a marble monument, Sept. 23, 1969.

Fifty years later, nearly to the day, family members, friends and Marines gathered to pay tribute to Covella and remember the sacrifice he made.

Covella’s son retired Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Covella Jr., and daughter, retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer 4 Roxanna Covella Barnes, both spoke of their father’s service and sacrifice.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” Covella said. “I dreamed of rededicating this pond in memory of my dad and it has come true. Dad would have been proud of this pond.”

He recalled the last time he saw his father.

“I was 11 years-old when my father left for Vietnam,” he said. “I will not forget that day because it was my birthday. I told him I would join the Marine Corps and I did. I served 20 years and I am proud of my service.”

Through his own personal experience in the Marine Corps and from his father, Covella learned the importance of family and those around him.

“I look around the pond and I see a place for families to come and relax,” he said. “This pond is just not a reflection of our family but the Marine Corps family.”

Barnes said the ceremony marked 50 years since her father was killed but also a time to remember his sacrifice.

“I did not know until I was in my teens what a hero my father really was,” Barnes said. “I was 6 year-old when he died. My dad is a war hero and he gave his life so we all could be free.”  

Barnes said she was grateful to have followed in her father’s footsteps.

“I am glad to be here today and to say I am a retired Marine means a lot,” she said.

Col. James C. Carroll III, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, paid tribute to the Marine hero and his service. 

“Our duty today is simple…to pause…to reflect…to remember…and to say thanks,” Carroll said.  “We must continue to remember that the freedoms we enjoy came from men like Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Covella.

“We stand on the shoulders of men like him who chose to defend the rights of our freedoms,” he said. “(He) saw a greater need than his own and answered the call of a nation--a nation so profoundly moved and eternally thankful for his unselfish commitment.

“We are here to thank Gunnery Sergeant Covella for serving proudly, fighting bravely and giving his life for the flag of a free people,” he said. “We stand here today in the eyes of God remembering (his) loyal service—service to the absolute limit of mental and physical endurance.

Carroll said there is no greater honor than to keep alive the memory of Covella, and others like him, who has given so much while asking so little.

“We honor those whose traditions are rich and whose sacrifices are monumental,” Carroll said. “We reflect upon that sacrifice and their gift to America—a gift, we the free, cannot repay.

“Gunnery Sergeant Covella’s legacy of valor and determination will always be a hallmark for future generations,” he said. “So let us honor the memory of Gunnery Sergeant Covella whose voice from the grave echoes the sounds of freedom.”

According to Carroll, the pond is perhaps the principal landmark at the installation and the single most important tie between the base and the local community.

“Each year we celebrate Independence Day here as more than 10,000 members of the Southwest Georgia community visit the base,” he said. “We also open the banks of this very pond every spring (for) our Buddy Fishing Tournament (where) children ages 5-15 can catch catfish and enjoy a family-friendly, safe environment.”

He also noted the pond is the location of the installation’s annual Employee Appreciation Day, where the workforce is publicly recognized and appreciated for all the great things they do in support of Marines.

At the end of the rededication, members of the Covella family and the Marine Corps League of Albany, Georgia, laid wreaths at the base of the memorial during the ceremony.