Welcome to the San Clemente Marine Corps Support Group website
OPERATION WINTER COMFORT 2013
While everyone is familiar with how brutally hot the summers in Afghanistan can be for our Marines, Sailors and Soldiers, what most people don’t know is how extremely cold the winters are for those serving in harm’s way.
With temperatures regularly in the 20′s and 30′s, the troops in the ground can use some extra comfort from those of us who support them from home.
As a result, SCMCSG is launching it’s third season of “Operation Winter Comfort”. For the past two years, we have been shipping blankets to our Marines and Sailors, this year, we will be adding long-underwear bottoms and watch caps to help to increase their comfort in a harsh and difficult environment.
You can help. A donation of $20 will enable us to send a Marine a blanket, a cap and some long underwear pants. As we are supporting three Battalions, or 3,000 Marines and Sailors, we can certainly use your help.
Please click on the PayPal Button below and make a donation, or send us a check to SCMCSG, 2171 Via Teca, San Clemente, CA 92673.
All donations are 100% tax deductible.
Thanks for your support!
Please click the Pay Pal Button below to make a donation today!!!
Socks for Heroes Weekly Update
It’s been a great week, and we’ve got lots to report!
As always, I’d like to thank all of you who made donations this week. Through your generosity, we were able to
claim the entire Challenge Grant of $2,500 that was put up by ABM. As a result of this, we will be able to ship
another 7,200 pairs of socks forward.
And we began shipping again this week. We pushed another 5,300 pairs of socks into the funnel to three Marine Units, two of whom
have just arrived in the Sandbox. We’re glad that we are able to help them get their deployment off on the right foot
(Forgive the pun)! This was the final component of the RENFRO Donation. We are grateful for RENFRO’s continued support of our Marines, Sailors and Soldiers forward.
There was also a very nice article that was done about our efforts by our local newspaper, the Orange County Register. Here is the link, if you’d like to read it: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/donald-528616-jim-carla.html
We also had the pleasure of getting to spend some time with a couple of Marines who served with our son over dinner this week, one of whom just got back from Afghanistan from a 7 month deployment mentoring Afghan Police Units. Over dinner, he laughed about how during a
visit to a Marine Unit, he spotted a box of socks that looked very similar to a box of socks that they had at their own CP and how he took great pleasure in telling the Marines how they had come to be there. The other Marine, just returned from a 15 month training cycle for Marine Special Operations. Carla and I were grateful that they would take the time to visit with us.
We also were grateful to attend the Memorial Service for a dear friend, Bill Kuskey on Friday at Camp Pendleton. Bill passed away on September 1st of this year after a 5 year battle with Cancer. Bill was a regular on the base who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Marines stationed there. Bill was not much for the limelight, but he did an awful lot of good.
Bill raised money for the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorials, sent thousands of homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies to Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also sent socks. In fact, it was Bill who, when we began our effort, provided us with the sock
distributor that we still use today. Bill had always been excited about sending socks to Marines, and had been very proud of the fact that once he had sent 1,500 pair forward in one shipment. He was always very supportive of our efforts, always asking “where are we at now?”.
The Memorial Service was held at the Father Capodano Chapel at Camp San Mateo at Pendleton. It was presided over by the 5th Marines Regimental Chaplain, and attended by many of Bill’s friends. It was a very casual affair, with Bill’s friends invited to share remarks.
The first remarks were from Major General Larry Nicholson, who had known Bill since he had commanded the 5th Marines in 2005. He spoke at length of Bill’s generosity and love towards the Marines that served in the Corps that he had once been a part
of. The best story was when Larry first had taken command, Bill would show up at the Command Post, with cookies. One day, he asked Larry what kind he liked, and Larry responded, “Well I’m not much of a cookie guy, but if I were to have a cookie, it would be Oatmeal Raisin”, thereby unleashing an endless flow of phenomenal (I know, I’ve had them) Oatmeal Raisin cookies that went acrossthree Nations. Bill sent cookies right
until the day he died.
We also heard from other friends, some for school, some from the Dance halls that Bill used to frequent, some from his efforts on behalf of the Marines.
While invited, I chose not to speak, as I didn’t want to take any of the focus away from Bill. We got to know Bill following the death of our son. And while I didn’t want to tell the story then, I will tell it now.
Bill, as I mentioned above, was a dancer. He had been dancing since he was a young man. During his later years, he primarily danced the West Coast Swing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this dance, it’s composed of a series of smooth movements. Bill had begun practicing it as a means of “smoothing out his Lindy Hop”.
Immediately after the Donald’s, we had flown out to Dover Air Force base to meet the remains of our son. At the time, our nephew was attending the Naval Academy and asked permission to meet us for this solemn occasion. Not only did he get permission, but he got a firm instruction from his Battalion Commander, a Marine Lt.Col that “You WILL bring them back to Annapolis, and the WILL stay on the grounds”. Our nephew is no dummy, he complied with hisorders.
The next morning, the Lt.Col took us for a private tour of the Academy where we were privileged to see things not normally available to the general public. At one point, we were in Memorial Hall, where they keep John Paul Jone’s battle flag, and the headpiece for Dewey’s
battleship. As he was going through the tour, he turned to my wife and said, “We hold the Marine Corps Ball here every
year, we would be honored if you joined us”. Carla, without hesitation, says “We’d be honored”.
The following week, we buried our son and held his Memorial Service. While it is still a bit of a blur, I still hold that week close to my heart as an example of the kindness that still remains in the hearts of Americans.
We had asked for a private ceremony at the Rosecrans Cemetery, of immediate family only. Just prior to the service beginning, a large group of Motorcycle riders came up to the Cemetery. They got off of their bikes and walked towards the service. I walked over to meet them with every intention of telling them that it was private. When I introduced myself, the President of the club stuck his hand out and said “Mr. Hogan, we are sorry for your loss. We are all former Marines, and we are here to make sure that nobody does anything to demean your son’s sacrifice”
. What could I say but “Welcome”. They then formed up into ranks on either side of the path for the coffin and stood at attention. I still can’t think of it without tears.
Two days later was our son’s Memorial service. I had never buried a child before, and was not sure how I was supposed to behave, but I thought that it was important to thank the people who attended. There were quite a few of them (about 800). I stood at the entrance of the church,
greeted the people, and asked the ushers to seat them based on whether they were Marine, family, etc.
Unbeknownst to me, one of them was Bill.
Following the memorial service, Carla informed me, that if we were going to the Marine Corps Ball, we would have to know how to dance.
So we went and took lessons, two of them a week for two months. We waltzed, we foxtrotted, we did the East Coast swing. By God, we were not going to embarrass ourselves by not knowing how to dance at the Naval Academy Ball.
The night of the ball, we received a special honor. During the Commanders remarks at the beginningof dinner, he looked out at the midshipmen and said “Gentlemen, Ladies, while we gather in celebration tonight in honor of our Corps, we always remember, that we train for war, and war has a price. That price has honored us with their presence tonight. We are joined bythe parents of a fallen Marine, Lcpl Donald Hogan”. At which point, the entire hall stood and applauded. Following dinner the Commander stood up again and said, this will conclude the event, it’s time to start dancing.
Now you ask, what did they play?
Did they play a waltz, or a foxtrot, or even some swing? Nope! Out came the Hip-Hop! We were both a little crestfallen. However, we got our dancing in a little later, as one of the Generals, to us his terms “Wanted to grope his wife” so they slowed it down a little bit so the music was a
better fit for our dancing skills.
Following our return, we kept up with our dancing to try to keep up our skills and to occupy our time in the months immediately after Donald’s death. We kept up with the lessons, and moved into West Coast Swing.
One night, when we were at the local ballroom for West Coast Swing night, a man walked up to me and asked me “Is your name Jim Hogan”, I said that it was. He said, “My name is Bill Kuskey and I attended your son’s memorial service. I wanted to tell you how moved I was that you would take the time to try to comfort the attendees by meeting them at the door”. Bill took great pleasure in introducing us to his friends that he danced with and making us feel comfortable.
That was Bill.
Bill was a friend in need when a friend was sorely needed.
We saw a lot of Bill over the past couple of years, as like us, Bill attended pretty muchevery event on Camp Pendleton. And thenwe didn’t. We would call him and he would say,” I’m dealing with the Cancer again, but I’m going to beat this thing”. We would always plan on seeing him soon. Sadly it never came to pass. We know that Bill is now part of God’s Personal Security Detail at Heaven’s Gates.
At the end of the remarks, a Marine presented an American Flag to Bill’s sister, with the comments that we are well familiar, “On behalf of a thankful Nation”.
Bill. We’ll miss you.
With the units that we will be supporting in place, we will be shipping again next week. We can use your help. It seems that, at this point, there won’t be a fundraiser until next year, so we are going to have to do it the old fashioned way, and again ask for your help.
We’ve made some inroads into the gap, but we are still a long way to go before we close it. If you’d like to help, please go to http://scmsg.org/sponsors or drop us a check to SCMCSG, 2171 Via Teca, San Clemente, CA 92673
We can also use help in getting our message out. Please forward our website http://scmsg.org/sponsors
and Facebook page http://facebook.com/socksforheroes to anyone and everyone who supports our troops.
Thanks for joining us in our position in this fight!
In honor of our son, LCPL Donald Hogan
Posthumously awarded the Navy Cross
We honor his memory by caring for his Marine Brothers wherever they serve in harm’s way