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U.S. Marine Corps League continues to serve

The Park Rapids Star of the North U.S. Marine Corps League serves at a funeral Monday, June 2. From left are Howard Maninga, Dave Free, Ronnie Mattson, Bob Johnson and Ron Masanz. (Submitted photo)

By Anna Erickson

The Star of the North U.S. Marine Corps League has participated in 250 military honors and burials as of June 2014.

The local Marine Corps League formed in 2002 and the Honor Guard came into existence in 2005 to pay tribute to deceased veterans.

A benefit dinner for the U.S. Marine Corps League Honor Guard is from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, June 12 at Necce’s Italian Ristorante in Park Rapids to recognize what this group does for the community. Tickets are available at Necce’s and Beagle Books.

Dave Free, a Vietnam veteran, is the Star of the North Marine Corps League commandant.

Members of the Honor Guard range in age and membership has increased to some 40 members. They train regularly and conduct drills to ensure the timing and movements are precise.

Many have served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

They charge nothing for the service, hosting fundraisers to cover costs.

A tribute somewhat replicates what occurs in the combat zone when a soldier has died. A helmet, rifle and boots are placed in the person’s honor.

At the funeral service, the Honor Guard stands at the casket, offering a salute and a prayer.

At the grave, a rifle is placed in the ground via a bayonet and dog tags are placed on the rifle with a helmet placed atop, boots beneath.

A rifle salute, a bugler playing Taps and the U.S. flag carefully folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, emblematic of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the war for Independence, completes the service.

In the folding, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped into the blue, symbolizing the light of day vanishing into the darkness of night.

This is presented to the family.

The Star of the North Honor Guard travels to the Twin Cities, Camp Ripley and other destinations upon invitation.

They also have a presence at other area functions including parades, memorial services, charities and also make visits to schools, nursing homes and veterans funerals.

More information about arranging military honors can be made through funeral directors or by calling Free at 218-252-8192.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561