To My Beloved Marine Corps — that’s how the letter begins…
From the Halls of Montezuma… He’s My Neighbor
Sergeant Major “Steve” Stephenson bought his 1965 Pontiac Tempest in 1968. Every day he exercises at about 5:00 a.m. then drives the Tempest to Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, CA, where he visits with young marines to help them heal physically, mentally and spiritually.
He’s also gone to a lot of funerals there. He prays every day as he hears the practice maneuvers – we both hear bombs going off with our close proximity to Camp Pendleton.
Every night, he prays for their safety if they should go to battle. He also told me that he adds another prayer – “if they do pass over to the other side, that the crossing is gentle and eased with love.”
Steve served in three wars during his career spanning from 1942 to 1972:
- – WWII: Infantryman at Guadalcanal
- – Korea: 1951-52 Battle of Seoul
- – Viet Nam: 1964-65 and 1968-69
He’s a member of the Sergeants Major Association and 1st Marine Division Association.
In one of these photos, he’s holding a letter he recently was asked to write about what the Marines mean to him. It starts like this…
“To My Beloved Marine Corps” …
The rest of its contents would make anyone cry as he writes of honor, pride, courage, commitment and how he feels when he hears the Marines’ Hymn. I’d like to thank Steve for being an awesome, caring neighbor all of these years and one amazing person.
Steve is a “Historian” organizing style and a collector. His garage is his personal sanctuary and I’m invited in. I’ve offered to organize his garage filled with car manuals, electrical stuff and all sorts of his Marine photos for years now! Those photos — I’m lucky he shares them with me.
To every young man or woman who served in any war, With love to you all,
To all the young men from Proviso East High School who went to war at such a tender age; some of whom never returned,
Thank you and God Bless you.
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During one of my visits back home, I found myself sitting in the driveway of Sergeant Major, not even making it inside yet to see Gma Jo and here’s why. He says he wants my opinion on something but “don’t tell Gma Jo about this or I’m in trouble!” Before he finishes his sentence I’m nodding my head replying “yeah, I’m in!” So he gets two chairs, offers me a beer, and we sit. For those that don’t know, this man hasn’t drank a drop of alcohol in over 50 years probably! That’s another great story that would crack you up! He grabs an old spiral notebook and begins to read! I quickly and politely stop him and ask if I can snap off a few pics of him while he reads. Gives me a strange look and a smile and says “sure”. Well I ended up recording instead! He starts again, “To my beloved Marine Corps”. By the second sentence I was speechless and he had my full attention listening eagerly, savoring every second. When he finishes reading his letter, without missing a beat, he continues straight into another wonderful old war story. This man (my daughters great grandpa) is a living legend!! His deep love and adoration for his country, God and family is so inspiring and amazing! His love affair with the Marine Corps, is undoubtably one of the greatest real life stories I’ve ever been honored and blessed to know!
Thank you for your loyal service,
Sergeant Major Steve Stephenson