The U.S. Marine Corps marked its 245th anniversary in November, and local Marines held a formal celebration commemorating the event.

The N.E. Alabama Marine Corps League, Detachment 1404, of Fort Payne, hosted a traditional USMC birthday ball on Nov. 7, 2020 in the Lake Guntersville Lodge Grandview Ballroom.

Approximately 90 guests attended from the SE region, including active-duty, retired and veteran Marines, Navy Corpsmen and Chaplains, and their companions.

Ballroom capacity and spacing guidelines were observed, which limited ticket availability, but the evening provided camaraderie which reunited old friends and created new ones.

Ceremonies included the cutting of the USMC Birthday Cake; hearing the USMC Commandant’s annual birthday message and recognition of the eldest and youngest Marines present.

Youngest Marine was Sgt. Christopher Moncrief, 30, of Scottsboro, and eldest was WWII & Korean War Marine Veteran Glen Fowler, 94, of Dogtown.

“Such an amazing person to meet,” said GySgt Cliff Champ of Guntersville, speaking of the elder Fowler. “This man was on Iwo Jima, and then after his tour of duty had long since ended, he reentered the Marine Corps to serve in the Korean War as well.

“It was so special to hear stories from him…he actually saw the famous flag raising on top of Mount Suribachi…I cannot hardly imagine the life he has lived.”

“It’s a brotherhood unlike any other” he told me,” Champ added. “It’s so amazing to share the title ‘Marine’ with heroes like this man.”

Another hero present was Special Guest Speaker of the evening, USMC Brigadier General Jerry C. McAbee of Rainsville.

BGen McAbee retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in August 2005 after serving 35 years and seven months on continuous active duty.

BGen McAbee’s personal decorations include the U.S. Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars in lieu of subsequent awards, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star in lieu of a subsequent award, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

Since retiring, BGen McAbee has consulted on national security issues in the Middle East and East Africa with Cubic Global Defense. He is married to the former Margaret Ann Noel of Fort Payne.

Other highlights

of the evening:

• Media personality ‘Peter the Patriot’ Peter Leavitt of Anniston rendered a historical recitation and provided a display of antique war memorabilia.

• A ‘Missing Man’ (POW/MIA) table was set, and a moment of silence observed, in memory of comrades who are prisoners of war or missing in action.

• The Posting of the Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing of the National Anthem.

• Music provided by DJ Coley Cole from Tupelo, Mississippi for listening or dancing enjoyment.

Interested in joining?

The N.E. Alabama Marine Corps League, Detachment 1404, is one of 16 detachments in Alabama.

The detachment meets at 10 a.m. each second Saturday at 659 Wallace Ave NE, Fort Payne, AL, 36967.

Active-duty, retired, and honorably-discharged Marines, FMF Corpsmen, and FMF Chaplains & immediate family are invited to attend and get to know us.

Masks and social distancing is observed as recommended by the CDC, ADPH and the USMC.

Check them out on Facebook at N.E. Alabama Marine Corps League.

Detachment 1404 is part of the National Marine Corps League, which was congressionally chartered in 1937 for the purpose of perpetuating the traditions and spirit of all Marines who have worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor of the Corps.

The local Detachment 1404 is a 501(c)4 non-profit which serves in many ways, including:

• Marine Toys for Tots of DeKalb County

• Marion Military Institute Scholarship

• Marine funeral casket guard service

• Transitioning Marine Family Support

• Hosting USMC Birthday Ball

• Flag Retirement Ceremonies

• Eagle Scout Good Citizenship Awards

• Partnering with the City of Fort Payne in planning Veterans Day program

• Maintain local veterans cemetery

• VA service officer guidance

• Assistance to local Marines and Veterans in dire straits.

For more information, contact Detachment 1404 Commandant Kevin Ellis at, or Adjutant Christy Ellis at; or at (423) 774-5932.

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