Arroyo Grande World War II Marine's body came home after 74 years


PFC George B. Murray, USMC died during the battle of Tarawa Island on November 20, 1943. He was the first soldier from the central coast to die in WWII. George was one of those whose remains had been listed as missing at Tarawa, but has recently been identified through the efforts of DPAA and advancements in DNA technology. 


George’s remains were taken in a hearse with Honor Guard from Pt. Hueneme and from there some Patriot Riders
(on motorcycles) assisted in escorting to Santa Barbara, Ventura, then to the Arroyo Grande cemetery August 18, 2017. His remains were buried on top of his mothers casket.


25 members of MCL 680 and MCL 1340 were present at the formal burial with full military honors.  Other participants were Pall bearers, a flag folding detail, 7 man firing detail, Navy Bugler, Navy chaplain and two presenting USMC officers.


MCL 680 members at the ready MCL 680 and MCL 1340 showing their respect  






Some thoughts on:


Proud to be a Marine. . .(from the Sept Newsletter)


I wonder how many times during Operation Iraqi Freedom that the phrase “Marines” was ut­tered? Even in the best of times, Army and Air Force officers have been heard muttering some epithet about Marines, invoking either heaven or hell. Interestingly enough, we Marines find it all rather reassuring and at times, amusing. Most of the time, Marines do not go out of our way to be obnoxious; we are just doing what Marines have done for over 200 years.


A good example is the fact that Marines always raise the American flag over mountains or cities they have conquered. From Mt. Suribachi to the City of Hue, to Kuwait City to Baghdad, U.S. Marines have raised the Stars and Strips, in the latter examples, much to the chagrin of higher headquarters. You don’t get these kinds of problems with the Army. So what is it about the U.S. Marines that they stick U.S. flags on everything and do more with less, a less that is either old or an army hand-me-down? We call it Esprit de Corps, but it goes deeper than that. We learn and maintain myths of the past, which also means living up to those historical examples. Marine Corps boot camp is the longest of the services; it is where we mold young men and women into the mythical image called a Marine. You can be in the Army, you can join the Air Force, but you become a Marine. All of the other uniformed services have songs; the U.S. Marines have a hymn.


The basic pattern of Marine Corps uniforms comes from the late nineteenth century; our emblem “the Eagle, Globe and Anchor” has remained largely unchanged since 1868. The buttons on our dress blues, whites and greens date back to the founding of our Corps. The Marine Corps is the only service that requires its officers to carry a sword, whose pattern dates back to 1805. I think that the path of being a Marine was established long ago. On the 10th of November 1775, the Marine Corps was first established . . . in a tavern. To this day, no matter where in the world, Marines celebrate the founding of our beloved Corps, much to the confusion of the other services.

A few years ago, a congresswoman from Colorado felt that the Marine Corps was radical and extreme. She contended that the Marine Corps was not politically correct, nor did we seem to be part of the Department of Defense’s transition to a “kinder and gentler” military. She was correct, and the Marine Corps took it as a compliment. But the proof is in the doing, and during Iraqi Freedom the Marines demonstrated what Marines can do. I watched with some amusement as a reporter asked a young lance corporal about being in Iraq and under rifle fire. “Love it, sir!” was his response. The reporter was taken aback and asked, “No, really”. The Marine then tried to explain that this is what he was trained to do, he looked forward to doing it and was now happy to be doing it. No doubt in boot camp he was told that he was “a minister of death praying for war”. Contrast that with the poor U.S. Army Apache pilots who said that if they had to take life, they would do so reluctantly. You are either a warrior or you are not.


Marines are mission oriented. Live or die, the most important thing to a Marine is accomplishing the mission. Whether taking the bridge, river or town, accomplishing the mission is the Holy Grail of being a Marine. How the mission is ac­complished is not so important, as it is expected of all Marines to accomplish the mission with the tools available. This is probably why we heard that Marines in one engagement were fighting with knives and bayonets. This was hardly high tech, but it was effective. These Marines now have bragging rights, for they have proven that they talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk. I doubt there is a single Marine who is not envious. Marines are practical, as well. I enjoyed hear­ing two reporters interviewing each other, one embedded with the Army, the other with the Marines. The reporter with the Army noted that the sandstorm had blown down many of the soldiers’ cots. The other reporter countered that the Marines did not have this problem because they slept on the ground. The Marine learns to live with what he can carry on his back. He expects to be moved around on the battlefield via his two black Cadillacs (boots). If he is lucky and gets a ride on an amtrack, so much the better, but it is not expected.


At the end of a mission, the priority for cleaning his weapon, then equipment, and finally, body. When the other services talk about “quality of life”, they are referring to housing, clubs and food. Marines are talking about better weapons, equipment and training, winning the battle and coming home alive is considered “quality of life”.


All of this translates into combat power. In comparison to the U.S. Army’s 3rd infantry Division, the Marines of I Marine Expeditionary Force were lightly equipped. Yet, they battled through the heart of Iraq, fought to the center of Baghdad and then moved off to Tikrit, taking that city as well. The press was so enamored with the Marines that in the final days of the war they even credited the Marines with deeds actu­ally accomplished by the Army. Little wonder we heard “....Marines!” so often. So we need to give the Marines some slack when they do something politically incorrect, such as raising the flag or appearing insensitive when killing the enemy. In the field, they look sloppy compared to the Army, but are aggressive in the attack and generally unhappy in the defense.


Marines take pride in their work, even if that work is war. We are just Marines and that is what we do.

Lt.Col. David W. Szelowski USMCR (ret.)






Veteran's Recognition Luncheon (May 18, 2012):


California State Senator Blakeslee's last luncheon was to honor the 34 “ Fallen Soldiers” of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts from our area as our Veteran of the Year. A personalized memorial resolution honoring each fallen soldier from these two conflicts was presented to their respective families (in attendance). In continuing with his tradition, the Senator also honored our local veterans that have been recognized by each of the local participating veteran organizations. Nominees were presented with a Senate Resolution by the Senator. 


A number of our MCL members were honored by the Senator with help from the moderator at the podium, Dana Cummings::


Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo Ceremony   John O'Connell receiving the award from the Senator
John was recommended by MCL680 Detachment
Tom Torgerson receiving his award
Tom was recommended by the
Central Coast Leatherneck Honor Guard
  Chuck Ward accepting his award
Chuck was recommended by the
Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW)
Jesse Trevino accepting his award
Jesse was recommended by the
Atascadero Veterans Memorial Foundation
  Chaplain Marc Unger lost his son in Iraq
and gave one very memorable talk!


On Saturday May 19,2012 Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian of the 33rd Assembly District held a Ceremony to Honor Veterans and members of the Armed Forces at the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Hall...awards were presented by the Assemblyman to a couple of our MCL members:


John O'Connell accepting an award from Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian for his service to the Country and the veteran community. 
John was recommended by MCL680
  Tom Torgerson accepting his award from Katcho
Tom was recommended by the CCLHonor Guard




Prior Year's Veterans Recognition Luncheon (2011):






AmpSurf Executive Director and founder and MCL 680 member Dana Cummings was honored by California State Senator Sam Blakeslee as the 2011 Veteran of the year for District 15. This is the fourth year Senator Blakeslee has recognized a veteran from the community for his/her efforts to help fellow veterans and is truly a great honor for Dana. Dana is shown receiving this honor from Senator Blakeslee at Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo May 20t





A recap of Dana's contributions from the Senator:

"Dana served for six years in the Marine Corps, including tours of duty in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.  Dana is well known for his devotion and resolve in assisting veterans in need. As many of you know, Dana is the co-founder and executive director of the Association of Amputee Surfers also known as AmpSurf.  AmpSurf supports people with disabilities through adaptive surfing and  other enjoyable outdoor activities.  Their mission is to teach people of all abilities how to stay active, build self-confidence and live life to the fullest.  AmpSurf focuses on serving Veterans, with approximately 70 percent of the organization’s participants having either once served or is actively serving our nation.  Dana’s passion and dedication to both serve and encourage our local veteran community is inspiring. I am proud to honor Dana Cummings as the 2011 Veteran of the Year."





Dana receiving his resolution on the floor of the California State Senate on June 9, 2010 from Senator Sam Blakeslee.  Dana's proud family is behind him.


Sam mentioned in his presentation that Dana had also been selected by CNN as one of 25 Heroes of 2010...out of 27,000 nominees.

AmpSurf has gone from having 8 "students" in 2003 to over 500 today.









Cathy Baker organized a local group to send packages of various needed items to our troops overseas and called it Arbiter.  Cathy did this after her son was killed in combat a few years ago.  Arbiter has sent well over 8,000 packages, entirely from local donations.


The MCL in conjunction with the Purple Heart Trail fund made a $165 donation to Cathy's group, followed up with another $150 donation in February, 2012.



Alan Wilks, Bob Prophet, Dorothy Wilks,
Cathy Baker, Jesse Trevino


Jesse and Bob in the storeroom










Left to right:

Karen Bright Grover Beach city council person,

Lou Barnes, Claudia Barnes, Pam Forister T4T coordinator, 

Tim Haley, Janet Haley, Sonny Lopez








The City Council of the City of Grover Beach has presented Marine Corps League Detachment 680 a proclamation honoring and thanking its 147 members for actively working in the community since 1999 providing assistance to one another and the community through their worthy acts and deeds, as well as supporting troops overseas, away from their homes and loved ones.


The group was specifically honored for participating in the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund and the Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum, and for operating Toys for Tots which provided more than 18,000 toys for children in 2007. Other actions sited included in the proclamation: assisting with the erection and maintenance of the flag pole on the hill at KSBY, providing the flag pole for the U.S. Marine Corps flag at the Atascadero Veterans Memorial and for the Honor Guard which has provided military honors at the burials of more than 575 area veterans. The award also thanked the detachment for conducting Memorial and Veterans Day services at Los Osos Valley Cemetery and Memorial Park for 10 years.


The detachment was formed in 1999 and is one of the largest in the state. It has been named State Detachment of the Year on several occasions.   



California Legislature
Sam Blakeslee
Assembly Member, 33rd District


Resolution from the California Legislature Assembly presented to Detachment 680 in recognition of our distinguished service to;  Country,Community,and Compatriots


Presented by Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee
May 9, 2008




Prior Commandant Tim Haley

with the Resolution





May 2008: Resolution from San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors honoring the Detachment for all their good works over the years.


Board and Detachment Reps


Tim and John with the honored award