As a young Marine who fought in Guadalcanal under the legendary Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, retired Master Sgt. Francis “Ace” Arciaga, found brotherhood that lasted a lifetime.
“Marines past and present are like friends,” Arciaga said. “I’ve always felt that they were my extended family.”
Arciaga was one of several generations of Marines on hand for the Newport Beach 1st Battalion, 1st Marines Adoption Committee-sponsored Mess Night at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort on Thursday evening. The retired veteran created a display of historical photographs and other memorabilia from the storied 1st Battalion, 1st Marines that will be donated to American Legion Post 291 in Newport Beach in honor of Memorial Day.
About 200 civilians attended the black-tie event and raised about $55,150 for the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. Proceeds from the event will go to help Marine families during time of deployment. Newport Beach adopted the battalion in 2003.
Newport Beach residents have raised about $600,000 for the battalion over the past five years, said Councilman Keith Curry.
This year’s Mess Night held a special meaning for many attendees because last year’s event had to be canceled while the battalion was deployed in Iraq, Curry said.
“It’s very inspiring to talk to these Marines and see the dedication courage they possess,” he said.
The battalion is based out of Camp Pendleton and has been deployed three times to Iraq over the past five years. The Marines returned from their latest deployment to Iraq in February.
Mess Night sets the stage for the unveiling of a city-sponsored memorial to the battalion on Memorial Day in Castaways Park. About 200 Newport Beach residents raised about $133,000 to pay for the monument.
The sculpture, designed by South Dakota-based artist Benjamin Victor, depicts a Marine looking over his shoulder in bronze set against a polished black-granite backdrop, providing a mirror effect, where the Marine’s face in profile can be seen in the reflection of the shiny granite.
BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at email@example.com.