Marines lunch together at Big Canyon Country Club

At one point during lunch at Big Canyon Country Club on Sunday, as dozens of Marines were enjoying filet mignon and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, somebody asked for all the former Marines to stand up.

The response came right away from all over the room: "There are no former Marines."

Tom Evans' life has testified to that. He enlisted in the Marines 69 years ago as a 16-year-old who didn't even measure 5 foot 4.

"I was the only Marine in my unit who didn't have any body hair," he told his guests Sunday.

But four years in the Corps made a man of him.

He didn't want to leave the Marines, but World War II was over. A few years later, he was back in the service as an officer, fighting in Korea and enduring nights that got to 34 degrees below zero.

Those cold nights led to his recent connection with his lunch guests: the officers and enlisted members of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.

Before the outfit deployed to South Korea recently, Evans said he was "asked to go down and tell them what combat's like."

After he gave his talk, all 215 Marines in the company lined up to give him a hug.

Later, after it got down to 13 below one night in Korea, the company's senior noncom, 1st Sgt. Jacob B. Jones, called Evans. Jones put his cell phone on speaker so Evans on the other end could hear the whole company shout: "You were right. It's colder than heck here."

Evans was so touched that he promised them some sort of treat when they got back stateside, which is how 60 or so Marines came to be eating steak, salad and chocolate lava cake at Big Canyon, where Evans is a founding member.

The officers and noncoms were in uniform, while the junior enlisted men showed up in slacks, button-ups and golf shirts, without so much as one guy wearing jeans by mistake.

Some of the Marines in golf shirts said they had their clubs in the trunk, just in case.

Evans said he hoped to invite the golfers back to play 18 some day. He also wanted to point out that other members had chipped in to help with the cost of the event, which also included free hats and Carl's Jr. gift certificates.

After lunch and after razzing him a bit, Jones presented Evans with a gift.

"We're going to honor him with a Raider tradition," Jones said, referring to the World War II amphibious infantry unit. "As a boat company, our tradition is we give paddles to outgoing staff and officers."

Jones pulled the camouflage tarp from around a wooden panel fixed with the unit insignia and gave it to Evans.

Evans choked up, telling the men, "I have a special place in my home for this."

Then he mock-paddled the air and took a fake swing at the sergeant, getting a few laughs and ooh-rahs.

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