The Tri-State Marine Corp League, Detachment 494 is preparing for its 32nd annual reunion at the Saxon Club in Austintown at 6 p.m. Aug. 13. The event will feature Lt. Col. Joseph Raftery as guest speaker.
Detachment 494 holds the event to reunite local Marine veterans from the Valley and across the nation.
“While most attending this event are from the Mahoning Valley, we do get some Marines traveling in,” said Detachment 494 reunion committee member Joe Caruso. “We have one former Marine who comes in from Las Vegas each year.”
The local chapter of the Tri-State Marine Corp League was formed around 1979 as a way for Marine veterans to keep in touch and reminisce about their time serving. Members of Detachment 494 range from veterans of World War II to Korea and Vietnam era veterans.
“We have five or six World War II vets,” Caruso said “A couple were on Iwo Jima.”
Caruso, an East High graduate, entered the Marines at age 17. Today, at 75, he stays active in the detachment and says he is “as gung ho as ever.”
“As a former Marine, the Marine Corp means everything to me,” Caruso said. “You’ve heard the saying, 'Once a Marine, Always a Marine.' I’m here to say that is very true.”
This year's guest speaker is Lt. Col. Joseph Raftery, a Philadelphia native and graduate of Millersville University.
Raftery enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1986, serving as an aviation storekeeper in Keflavik, Iceland. He was accepted into the PLC (Platoon Leadership Class) program and was commissioned in 1991 as a logistics officer. His first tour was with the 3rd Landing Support Battalion in Okinawa, Japan. In 1996 he was re-assigned to San Diego as both logistics officer and H and S Company commander for weapons and field training.
He next attended Amphibious Warfare School, graduating with honors in 1996. He had served in Operation Determined Response in response to the U.S.S. Cole disaster and in Operation Anaconda in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Continuing his military career, Raftery attended the Marine Corps command and Staff College in Quantico, Va. Upon completing the course, he was assigned to Tactical Training and Exercise Control group, in Palms, Calif. In 2004 he deployed to Al Anbar Province in Iraq.
In 2006, Raftery was reassigned to the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. After that tour, it was off to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan
Raftery’s personal decorations include the bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, and the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement medal.
Raftery fits the bill for the 32nd annual Tri-State Marine Corp League reunion. For information on the reunion, or on making reservations, contact Ed at 330-702-0677 or Frank at 330-533-2314.