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Leatherneck vets recall Korean War

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Thoughts of buddies and events of years gone by went through their minds as the music played.

Korean War...

By Jack Shanahan

Three dozen leatherneck veterans from Queens stood at attention in three ranks June 3 as a deejay played four stanzas of “The Marines Hymn.”

Thoughts of buddies and events of years gone by went through their minds as the music played.

Korean War veteran Andy Musumeci of Whitestone, who fought at the “Frozen Chosin” reservoir, dabbed repeatedly at his eyes as the hymn recalled hero buddies.

Joseph Sinatra of Fresh Meadows, now 88, who was in the Marines when World War II broke out, thought of Dec. 7, 1941.

He had been on liberty in Richmond, Va., when he noticed “people were running all around. I knew something was wrong.”

Then he learned Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Two weeks later he was on his way to American Samoa to refit old warplanes with armor plating.

It was like that for all the leatherneck vets, members of the North Shore Queens Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

They were celebrating the 55th anniversary of the founding of the detachment, which first met in 1946 in the Flushing Armory.

This band of leathernecks had taken only a brief time out from their “no-nonsense, no-talks” birthday party in the McKee American Legion Post in Whitestone just to fall-in in platoon formation and hear “The Marines Hymn” to acknowledge their heritage.

The music stirred their souls — “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.” And now to the Persian Gulf.

Thomas Maher of Flushing, detachment commandant, said in an interview that since the league was formed in Queens, its members not only have marched in countless neighborhood parades, but also have provided color guards for special events, including the 1964 memorial service for President Kennedy at Queens Borough Hall.

The detachment fought to save historic Flushing Town Hall from the wrecker’s ball shortly after the 1964-65 World’s Fair and tried to get the U.S.S. Constitution to come to the fair and are trying once again now that she’s seaworthy to have her visit New York. It also has paid tribute to Queens’ war dead.

They include Medal of Honor recipients Dan Daly, buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, and Thomas Noonan, in Old Calvary Cemetery. Both served in the Corps.

The detachment is active now in donating clothing for the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence and takes part in the Marine Corps Reserve’s annual Toys for Tots collection. It also wants to get a building from the city at Fort Totten when the federal government transfers the land. They want to have a library, meeting place and Marine museum.

“Let’s take one of these wonderful old buildings and make it useful again,” Maher wrote this month in a letter to Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.

The detachment meets the first Thursday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at the McKee Post, 10-20 Clintonville St., Whitestone.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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