N.Y. Parade Commitee donates $11,000 to Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
By Cpl. Wil Acosta
| | April 20, 2005
First Marine Corps District Headqarters Garden City, N.Y. --
The hard chargers of 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, were presented with an award April 20 for participating in the 9th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rockville Centre.
The Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Parade Committee presented the Marines with the award for best performance by a military unit or historical reenactment group and honored one of their fallen with a charitable donation to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in his name.
According to Maj. Brian O’Leary, who accepted the award on behalf of his fellow Marines, the award was an added bonus. He said the real honor was marching in the parade, which paid tribute to 1st Lt. Ronald D. Winchester, a Marine from Rockville Centre who paid the ultimate price for freedom while serving as a platoon commander for 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in Iraq.
“We're very proud to have won the award for best military unit,” said O’Leary, a Long Island, N.Y., native. “Marines take particular pride in marching well, so I'm pleased but not surprised that we earned first place.”
However, the committee does more than organize a parade and hand out awards.
“We like to call our parade the parade that cares and shares,” said awards dinner chairwoman Merry Krupp. “In addition to planning the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, our committee raises funds from corporate and local sponsorship to donate to charity.”
This year the committee decided to honor Winchester and his family by donating a check for $11,000 to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in his name. The charity, which was founded by a small group of concerned Marine Corps spouses, provides financial assistance to the families of Marines and Sailors injured while serving our nation.
“Just as we were voting on what charities we would donate to, a 60 Minutes segment featuring the Marines in Iraq came on the television,” said committee co-chairman Joseph F. Kelly, an Army veteran himself. “We decided that night to donate to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.”
Marianna Winchester accepted the donation on her son’s behalf and expressed her gratitude to the committee, its supporters, and the Marines present.
“Whenever I see Mrs. Winchester, I'm humbled by her strength and by her
son's sacrifice,” said O’Leary. “It's an honor for me and my Marines to represent our Corps in a parade that benefits organizations like the Semper Fi Fund. It's a very worthy charity whose efforts are obviously relevant today. I am also grateful to the people of Rockville Centre for their generosity in choosing to support this great cause.”
According to Kelly, the gratitude was mutual. “[These Marines] we’re totally supportive from day one,” said Kelly. “They were eager to participate in the community and honor one of their own. Were just happy to show how much we appreciate what Marines are doing.”