Assistant Managing Editor
WILBRAHAM Dave Vivian, coach of the Wilbraham Falcons youth baseball team, recently hosted a low-key Memorial Day event that had significant impact a half a world away.
In response to a column in this newspaper, Vivian said he and his wife wanted to help locally-based military personnel who were deployed to fight the war in Iraq. It was merely a coincidence that he and his wife go to church with Graeme and Kristina Bazarian, whose son, Captain Matthew Bazarian, serves with Bravo Company of the 1/25 Marines.
"We have a couple of folks who go to our church, and our son was doing work for them," Vivian explained. "We knew their son was in the Marines and we asked if we could send a package to him -- as it turns out [their] son was part of the 1/25 Marines."
The 1/25 Marines were featured in this newspaper in March as part of an assignment to cover their Mojave Viper training in Twentynine Palms, Calif. They arrived in Fallujah, Iraq in April. Several local men and many from Massachusetts serve in the battalion.
As a Memorial Day activity for his baseball team, Vivian said he reached out to his team members and their families to send some needed supplies to the Marines, such as snack food, socks, and school supplies and toys to give to Iraqi children.
In addition to making a connection with someone from their town who is serving in the war, Vivian said this activity gave the children an opportunity to see that Memorial Day is more than a day off from school.
"The fact that there are real folks from around the area that are over there protecting us and volunteering for a really tough job ... it's not just death tolls on the evening news," Vivian explained.
Vivian himself is a veteran who retired as a commander in the Navy. During his service he flew F-4 jets off aircraft carriers in the post-Vietnam era.
"If you saw 'Top Gun,' I was Goose," he explained of his job. "I sat in the back seat of fighter jets that flew off the carrier."
He also served in the reserves following his active duty Navy career, working in an anti-submarine warfare platform.
In addition to the care packages, Vivian said he photographed the team and they all signed a card for Bazarian. In return, they recently received a letter from him, thanking them for their packages and giving them a glimpse of what life is like for Bazarian and his fellow Marines.
He said his company can occasionally catch a Red Sox game on their satellite television connection, so while the Wilbraham youth baseball players are watching the game here, they might be sharing the same ups and downs as Bazarian and the Marines in Iraq.
To learn more about the 1/25 Marines of New England, go to www.mfr.usmc.mil/4thmardiv/25thMar/1stBn/. To see Bravo Company's website, visit www.mfr.usmc.mil/4thmardiv/25thMar/1stBn/CoB/.
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