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Marines remain steadfast to brotherhood

Date: 6/22/2010

June 23, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

GREATER SPRINGFIELD -- Separation from the military doesn't necessarily end a person's sense of duty and service to the corps -- once a marine, always a marine.

Marines Helping Marines, a non-profit founded in 2003 at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, provides financial support and camaraderie to severely injured corpsmen and women. The Westfield River Valley Marine Corps League Chapter 141 has expanded its operations to include the program on local and national levels.

"[Marines Helping Marines] shows that to us it's all about our brotherhood and helping people no matter what their situation is," Francis Curnow, commandant of the Westfield River Valley Chapter 141, said.

He noted the most recent local beneficiary of the program was Sgt. Joshua Bouchard of Granby who was injured last year in Afghanistan. Bouchard sustained life-threatening injuries including the loss of his left leg, a broken arm and back.

Marines Helping Marines aid military personnel like Bouchard and their families with food and taxi vouchers, phone cards and funds for housing to help family members visiting injured marines in one of the participating hospitals: Balboa Naval Medical Center, San Diego, Calif.; Bethesda Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas; Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; and the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Camp Pendleton in Virginia and Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.

Curnow noted the non-profit also unites veterans with the injured, taking them for outings to baseball games or other activities to boost morale.

"We often got the rough end of the stick . [we] don't want to see that happen again," Curnow recalled of his homecoming after serving in the Vietnam War.

"They're not the ones who caused the problem they're the ones that have been asked to solve it," he added. "It's about holding your hand out to your brother."

The brotherhood is 65,000 members strong, Curnow noted, and has raised more than $250,000 to assist injured marines and their families.

Aldo Mancini, sergeant at arms for the Westfield River Valley Chapter 141, said local fundraising efforts raised $2,500 last year alone.

The next event benefiting Marines Helping Marines will be a motorcycle ride on Sept. 18 at Alexander's Restaurant in Feeding Hills. Riders are also asked to bring toys in support of Toys for Tots.

Curnow was quick to note that just because the Detachment 141 is based in Westfield that does not mean their service is limited to those in the city; the organization serves all those in the Valley.

Donations to Marines Helping Marines may be made a the organization's Web site, or by sending a check to Westfield River Valley Marine Corps League Detachment 141, 71 North Elm St., Westfield, MA 01085.

To learn more about the Motorcycle Ride to benefit Toys for Tots and Marines Helping Marines, call Detachment 141's headquarters at 562-4850.