Dinner for Afghanistan-bound Marines

Camp Pendleton Marines, who will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, are to be honored at a formal mess night at the Balboa Bay Club Thursday night, an event organizer said.

The Newport Beach 1/1 Marine Foundation, which raises money for and reaches out to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines and the Marine Corps unit's families will host the formal mess night and fundraiser, said Homer Bludau, a former Newport Beach city manager who is the foundation's president. The city adopted the "1/1" as a military unit in 2003.

"It's not just about the money," Bludau said. "It's also about showing the Marines that they are supported by the people of Newport Beach."

The black-tie dinner for the 1,200 Marines, who will ship out to Afghanistan in mid-February, will carry on the history of mess nights, which were typically held before troops were sent off to war, Bludau said.

By contacting the foundation, tickets can still be purchased for $225, which covers one civilian ticket and one ticket for an attending Marine, he said.

The fundraiser will follow a Wednesday dinner hosted by the Newport Beach Rotary Club at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club to honor the battalion and present about $1,700 in community donations to the 1/1 Marine Foundation.

While the rotary club is involved in a number of local charities, current President-elect Bill Hossfeld has pushed for more involvement to support military families.

"Marines families were equal, if not more so worse off," Hossfeld said of other high-need interest groups. "I said, 'Hey, let's help these guys who need the help a lot more. The husband's putting his life at risk while the families have to stay back and make do at home.'"

Many of the military families live in a state of near poverty and need support from the community and groups such as the rotary club and the 1/1 Marine Foundation, Hossfeld said.

For the Marines who will soon be leaving their families for deployment to the theater of war, the show of support will provide an important boost of morale, he said.

"This unit is a front line unit — always has been," Hossfeld said. "And they're proud of that."

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