Frank Rinchich of Loris finished his active military duty many years ago but he is still on a mission for the Marine Corps League, which dates to the years following the first World War when U.S. Marines were returning from the trenches of France. Rinchich wants to spread the word about the Marine Corps League and the community service of Carolina Borders Detachment 1036.
Detachment 1036 has 33 S.C. and 37 N.C. members, including one of the very first women Marines, Alma McClune of Calabash, N.C., who was a cook at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station when it opened during WWII. She was among Detachment 1036 members who recently visited Cherry Point in Havelock, N.C. ``She wanted to tell the young Marines [in the mess hall] about her time as a cook at Cherry Point,’’ detachment commandant Scott Slater recalls.
Supporting the community is a major focus of the Marine Corps League, Slater says, along with “upholding the good name of the Marine Corps and supporting’’ active and former or retired Marines. “We’ve got that bond [as Marines] ... but at the end of the day, we’re involved in the community to make it a better place to live.’’
Detachment 1036 awards two $500 scholarships a year for college or technical training to an Horry County or Brunswick County student. Members collect Christmas toys for the well-known Toys for Tots program. The detachment also donates $2,000 a year to Fisher House which provides medical care for veterans. It gives leadership awards to JROTC programs at 11 high schools in the two counties and provides holiday meals at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
The detachment’s major fundraiser is a July golf tournament, held at Aberdeen on S.C. 9 for 14 years. Another source of revenue comes from selling admission tickets to Belk’s charity sale. The detachment keeps the $5 for tickets members sell.
The Marine Corps League was chartered by Congress in 1937 and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Nationally, the organization has more than 76,000 men and women including active duty, Reserve Marines, honorably discharged veterans, Navy corpsmen (medics) and chaplains as well as associate members. The Carolina Borders Detachment was chartered in November 1999.
The current national commandant of the Marine Corps League is John W. Kovalcik of Myrtle Beach, a past commandant of the Grand Strand Detachment (Murrells Inlet) who has long been active in the Toys for Tots collection. That annual drive is set to begin early in November. The Carolina Borders Detachment collects toys in cooperation with the Murrells Inlet and Shallotte, N.C. units. “We’re unique in that we have three detachments so close,’’ Slater says.
Slater served 28 years as a Marine, retiring as a colonel. He was a naval flight officer. Slater’s dad also was a Marine officer. At age 57, he’s been the youngest member of Detachment 1036, until recently. Rinchich notes that he was a Marine when Slater was born. Rinchich recalls watching the movie “Battle Cry’’ and soon joining the Marines in 1955. He served four years, including two on the cruiser Helena. After his Marine service, he was a paramedic for the city of Charleston, W.Va., and director of emergency services for Boone County, W.Va.