NORWALK, Conn. – New Canaan resident Mike Discipio honored tradition Friday, using a sword to cut three pieces of cake as the culmination of the “family” gathering held at the Shorehaven Golf Club in Norwalk.
DiScipio and other local United States Marines were honoring the 237th anniversary of their branch of the armed services with the luncheon, also a tradition going back more than 20 years. About 50-60 people attended, which was less than usual; DiScipio said that was due to hardships brought on by “General Sandy.”
The “humble” beginning of the Marines on Nov. 10, 1775, in Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern had led to a fraternity of people bound by unique experiences, Bud Abbott of Stamford said as he raised a toast.
“Out of this we do have another family and it’s a close family,” he said. “We find each other. Have you noticed that? Get on a plane, go to a restaurant, whatever, get on a ship, somehow or other we find each other. I think there’s a good reason for that. We have been through something that is a privileged experience.”
Abbott, a World War II and Korean War veteran who has received both the Navy Cross and Silver Star, went on to say, “I think of some of my friends who are no longer here, I think of the some of the happy endings and some of the not so happy endings – we all shared those, too.”
Conversations at lunch revolved around interests in common, such as visits to Quantico or the Parris Island golf course, where the mosquitoes on the fourth hole were unbearable, according to Dick Redican of Darien.
Redican remembered the time he saw a mushroom cloud during his Vietnam War tour of duty, in Da Nang. “That’s it, they nuked us,” he remembered thinking.
Turned out a landing aircraft had bounced over a road into an old French minefield. The only thing left of the plane was its tail section, he said.
Redican said he been coming to the anniversary luncheon for 19 years. The raffle, the auction and the price of admission raised money for the Marine Corps scholarship fund, he said.
After enjoying prime rib, Discipio and other Leathernecks performed the traditional cake ceremony. Marines rolled the cake in, held a sword together for a photograph, and listened to a message from the commandant of the Marine Corps.
The first piece of cake went to the oldest Marine present. The second to the youngest. Discipio ate the third.
Norwalk resident Larry Ancker, who was in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve from 1969 to 1975, said he always comes to the event as he is a Shorehaven member. “I come to honor the other guys,” he said. “… There are a lot of guys who aren’t here anymore, who served in the second World War and stuff. It’s a tradition.”
Floyd Gilmore served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955 and has lived in Norwalk for 46 years. He grew up in Alabama as the youngest of 15 children; of the eight boys, six served in the military.
He goes to the luncheon “just to be thankful for our country.”
He is 80 now and thinks of his older brothers. “It’s just a lot of memories,” he said. “(I come) just to honor them.”