The Few. The Proud. The Marines.

Sal Arrigo  |  2015-11-19

Recently I had the privilege to meet Commandant Mark P. Hite of the Marine Corps League, Elk Grove, Calif., and Detachment 1238. Hite was a combat Marine during the Vietnam War, having served from 1964 through 1970. He achieved the rank of Staff Sargent E-6 and was attached to the 6th Marine Regiment. I told Hite that I heard about the phrase: “Once a Marine, always a Marine;” and asked him if this rings true for him? “I am a Marine in another phase of my life,” was his answer.

The “other phase” of Commandant Hite’s life is working to help fellow Marines and their families through the Marine Corps League. Established in 1923 and receiving its Federal Charter in 1937 through an Act of Congress, the League’s mission is to “join together in camaraderie and fellowship for the purpose of preserving the traditions and to promote the interests of the United States Marine Corps…”

There are several programs within the League that Marines work toward for the betterment of the community. For example, the Toys-for-Tots program, a well-known program of the Marine Corps, is assisted by the League through collecting and distributing toys to needy children, and by raising needed funds for the program. The League also has a scholarship program to help students with their college expenses.

One aspect that many people are unaware of is the Semper Fi Fund ( Semper Fi, always faithful, is the well-known motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. This fund provides “immediate financial assistance and lifelong support to wounded, critically ill and injured Marines and FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Corpsmen and their families.” The fund, established in 2004, has issued 103,000 grants totaling more than $118 million dollars in assistance, with little to no red tape. Hite told me that nearby housing is provided for families when a Marine is rehabilitating or spending time in the hospital. “It is a major hardship for families” Hite said.

Commandant Hite mentioned that his grandfather was a Marine and that he always admired him for serving. I thanked Hite for his service and let him know that it was an honor for me to interview him. In fact, it is quite admirable what the Marine Corps League is doing in the greater Sacramento region. They are a nonprofit organization and if you are interested in making contact with them, try calling Commandant Mark P. Hite at (916) 687-8208 or send an e-mail inquiry to Their meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at the Elks Lodge in Elk Grove.

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Nature Area Ceremony Honors Fallen Heroes

Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2015-11-19

War veterans gathered at the Earl J. Koobs Nature Area on Nov. 11th to honor 15 fallen Vietnam heroes during an annual Remembrance Day ceremony. Among the 200 attendees were survivors of WWII, Korean and Middle Eastern conflicts, and their families.

Absent for the first time in 15 years was Earl “Ranger Jack” Koobs—the La Sierra teacher who began the annual tradition and helped save his namesake nature preserve from subdivision.

Koobs, a WWII veteran, died last February at the age of 94.

The Earl J. Koobs Nature Area is now held in an educational trust, and children from nearby schools learn about science and nature in the sprawling five acres.

In 1973, Koobs and La Sierra students created the first known California Vietnam Memorial dedicated to alumni culled by the unpopular war. The towering monument was one of the first memorials raised for Vietnam War casualties in the U.S. Its inscription recalls 15 La Sierra High School alumni who died in the conflict.

Though La Sierra High is now closed, the monument remains, and every Nov. 11th a bell is rung for each man named on the sculpture’s rusting plaque.

“We send them our love and appreciation in any way we can,” said former La Sierra student Karen Pinnegar during last week’s gathering.

The monument is dedicated to the following men: Robert D. Anderson, Mark W. Burchard, Robert S. Byrnes, Jerry Cowsert, Kenneth R. Escott, Gary R. Field, Herbert Frenzell, Frank Thornburg, Ralph Guarienti, Larry H. Morford, Thomas C. Pigg, Randall B. Rainville, Kim Richins, Jeffry Tharaldson, and Robert A. Willis.

The Earl J. Koobs Nature Area is located near the intersection of Engle Road and Garfield Avenue in Carmichael. For more information call Linda Jones at (916) 944-2393.

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Citing the tragic death of a veteran at the Mather Veterans Affairs hospital last year, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. introduced a bill to implement additional accountability measures at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country.

His bill, the VA Quality Care Act, includes additional oversight measures to ensure all problems at VA facilities are reported, communicated, and fixed across the network.

“The tragic death of this veteran illustrates problems within the VA system that must be addressed,” Bera said. “My bill increases transparency and reporting so that any issues in the delivery of care at one facility are shared with other facilities in the system. The information from my requested investigation suggests that VA facilities are not sharing best practices and other quality improvement measures effectively. This bill will ensure doctors, nurses, and staff are all operating efficiently and effectively and collaborating across health centers to deliver the best care possible to our nation’s heroes.”

Last October, a Sacramento County Vietnam veteran died after a do-not-resuscitate bracelet was incorrectly placed on his wrist. Bera requested an investigation with the Office of the Inspector General; their report found that Mather was responsible for a “delay in life-saving intervention.”

“Our service members have sacrificed for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure they receive top quality care,” Bera said. “Based on the findings in the Inspector General report, there are institutional problems that are seriously affecting the quality and delivery of care. Reporting requirements in my bill will help correct and improve care. We must do all we can to ensure this does not happen to any other veterans.”

Source: Office of Congressman Ami Bera

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IHOP restaurants will once again honor the 22 million veterans currently living in the United States and more than 1.3 million Armed Forces members currently serving in the military by offering them a free stack of Red, White and Blue pancakes on Veterans Day.

Participating IHOP restaurants throughout the United States will serve a stack of Red, White, and Blue pancakes—buttermilk pancakes crowned with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote, and whipped topping—free for veterans and active duty military on Veterans Day, November 11th, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Having served as an Army Ranger and infantry officer, I am proud to be part of a brand that honors the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe and free,” said President of International House of Pancakes, LLC Darren Rebelez. “We are looking forward to having our nation’s heroes as guests at their local IHOP, and personally thanking them for their service.”

Veterans and active duty military must simply show proof of military service to receive their free Red, White, and Blue pancakes. Proof includes: US Uniformed Services ID Card, US Uniformed Services Retired ID Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), veterans organization card (i.e. American Legion, VFW, etc.), photograph of themselves in US military uniform, wearing their uniform, DD214, military dog tags, and citation or commendation.

For over 57 years, International House of Pancakes, LLC has been a leader and expert in all things breakfast. The chain is highly competitive in its menu offering, serving approximately 65 different signature breakfast options as well as meals less than 600 calories. As of June 30th, 2015, there were 1,658 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the Philippines and the U.S. Virgin Islands. IHOP restaurants are franchised and operated by Glendale, California-based International House of Pancakes, LLC and its affiliates. International House of Pancakes, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN).


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