Marseilles receives plaque honoring Marines


MARSEILLES - Former Marine Glenn Borvansky led the community Saturday in saluting the Freedom Wall, all military veterans, and the Corps 232nd birthday during presentation of the First Marine Division plaque to the city.

In an easy-going, low-keyed ceremony at the site of the Middle East Conflicts Mem-orial Wall, Borvansky presented the $800 bronze plaque to Marseilles Mayor James Trager in honor of the FMD and entire Corps.

The plaque is one of about four of its kind. The others are displayed in locations including Okinawa and Guadalcanal.

"That's quite an honor," said Trager in unveiling the plaque. "I'm here to assure Glenn we will find an honorable site for it in the future."

Trager noted the city will construct a sidewalk along the east side of South Main Street, then under the bridge and west to the Freedom Wall.
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"My idea is to put this plaque and any other awards we receive along that riverbank. We will find a place for it," he said in reference to Borvansky's year-long effort to have the city accept the plaque.

"I thank Glenn for all his efforts," Trager added. "He's like a dog with a ball in his conquest to get this plaque placed in Marseilles."

Prior to the presentation, Borvansky said he would like for the plaque to be installed along the sidewalk in the area somewhere east of the Freedom Wall.

"Hopefully it will be where the new sidewalk is to be built," he said. "Hopefully the Walk of Honor will be set up, and give dignity to our memorial honoring the Mideast Conflicts Wall, and without taking away from the men and women who gave their lives for our country."


The plaque was given to the city by the FMD Association in honor of all Marines and veterans of every branch of the military.

During the program, Borvansky touched on the history of the First Marine Division, which traces its roots back to March 8, 1911.

"The oldest, largest, and most decorated division in Marine Corps history," he said.

The First Division sustained the most deaths of any Army or Marine Corps division in the Pacific Theater during World War II, with 3,407 casualties. The division earned three presidential citations during the Korean War, in which it had 4,400 casualties, he said.


During the Vietnam War, the FMD won two more presidential unit citations. From 1965 to 1969, the division lost more than 6,000 members in combat.

"Nearly half of all the Marine fatalities in Vietnam," said Borvansky.

The FMD participated in Operation Desert Shield in 1990, and in Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War of 1999, in which eight Marines were killed.

The division lost two Marines in combat after being deployed to Samolia in Operation Restore Hope in 1992-1993, and then won another presidential citation in Iraq in 2003.

The division was deployed again to Iraq in 2004 and 2006.

"As of May 26, 2007, the First Marine Division has sustained 341 deaths in Iraq.

There are 5,836 names on this wall," he said, pointing to the Mideast Conflicts Memorial. "We are here today to honor them, and to honor the city for being the host to this wall."

The ceremony concluded with Taps and the Marine Corps Hymn. The color guard from veterans posts in Sandwich posted and retrieved the flag.

Larry Allen of Sandwich was among the visitors. He saw the Freedom Wall in 2004, when four panels were in place. Eight panels make up the memorial now.

“Three panels were completely filled with names, and the fourth wasn't more than a third full of names,” he said. “It's sad to see those names up there. Unfortunately, there is room for probably three or four more panels. I hope they don't get used.”

Allen served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1969-1970.

“I was a rifleman in a platoon squad,” he said. “I saw it, yes, ma'am.”

WW II Marine veteran Ernie Upton cut the birthday cake during the reception at the local American Legion/Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.



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