Once a Marine Always a Marine

July 16, 2013 08:36 AM

Former Marine Sgt. Gary Brown (left) receives the official
Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard belt buckle from Sgt. Edgar
Torrealba, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the
Mounted Color Guard, July 5.

 Photo by U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Samuel Ranney

The only remaining Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard declared its first honorary member during a buckle ceremony, July 5, in Cody, Wyo.

The prestigious ceremony involved former Marine Sgt. Gary Brown, a Vietnam veteran and long time host and friend of the MCG, receiving his very own MCG belt buckle. The buckle, which displays the eagle, globe and anchor, was presented to Brown by Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the MCG.

Brown was recognized for his hard work and dedication to the MCG and the Corps as a whole.

“The belt buckle has been a Mounted Color Guard tradition for years,” explained Torrealba. “Only official members of the MCG receive one.”

The reasoning behind making him an honorary member is simple, explained Torrealba. He is a Marine through and through.

“Mr. Brown is very welcoming and supportive of every devil dog he meets. Anyone and everyone who has taken the oath and earned the EGA is a brother or sister to him,” explained Cpl. Bryanna Kessler, a stableman with the MCG. “He is always willing to help anyone. That’s what makes him a Marine’s Marine; he lives by honor, courage and especially commitment.”

Brown played an integral part in getting the MCG to Cody for their Independence Day celebrations. A tradition that has now been going on for seven years, said Torrealba. Each year the MCG has come to Cody, Brown and his wife Leslie have hosted the Marines and made sure they were taken care of.

During the current sequestration, for example, Brown fought for the MCG to come to Cody, knowing many other military functions were being cancelled due to the budget cuts, explained Torrealba. He even prepared arrangements to cover the expenses of the trip in case the government wouldn’t pay for it.

Nothing means more to him than the Marine Corps’ presence in town, said Leslie.

“From the moment we arrive, Gary is with us. He works with us from the early mornings to the late nights,” added Torrealba. “He is always the first one to greet us and the last to see us off.”

“Gary has supported the MCG without having any obligations to us. He has gone out of his way time and again to make sure we get to Cody,” said Sgt. Jacey Marks, a stableman with the MCG. “Gary makes it his mission to take care of Marines even though he has been out of the Corps for years. He has done more for the MCG than any other civilian … he rates a Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard belt buckle.”

Marks further explained this goes to show Marines are brothers in arms … no matter what generation. “Gary Brown is a true American hero,” Said Sgt. Joel Richards, a stableman with the MCG. “Words cannot describe how much he has done for the Mounted Color Guard and for the Marine Corps.” Richards added that the ceremony brought him to tears. Watching someone who has done so much for America, not only during his time on active duty but decades later, and then becoming an official member of the MCG, was an emotional experience.

“Nothing means more to me than the Marine Corps presence here in Cody,” said Brown. Brown also added how proud it makes him when people from the community come up to him and tell him how good the MCG looked after their performances.

He can often be overheard saying, “I wish I was still in the Corps,” and although that may not be possible for this Vietnam veteran, he is and always will be a Marine and honorary member of the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. “Receiving that buckle meant everything to me … and I mean everything,” Brown said. “It was the biggest honor of my life.” The Purple Heart recipient has been out of the Corps for decades, yet demonstrates the epitome of esprit de corps day in and day out. He is a true example of ‘once a Marine, always a Marine,’ which was the consensus of all four members of the Mounted Color Guard.

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