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No Such Thing as an Ex-Marine'
Alan D. Opra
2019 Detroit Veteran’s Day Parade “VETERAN OF DISTINCTION”
“Big AL” as he is affectionately known by his many Veteran brothers and sisters was born in Detroit, Michigan he joined the Marine Corps and left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA at 17 years and 3 weeks old on August 4, 1981.
As a member of the United States Marine Corp, he was then sent to the 1st Battalion 8th Marines where he was deployed to Beirut, Lebanon from May-November of 1983. While in Beirut he went out on patrols guarded both the American and British embassy’s, helped with the investigation of Marine Barracks Bombing, and several other duties.
His military decorations include The Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps & Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals and a Sea Service Deployment ribbon w/Bronze Star (second award).
Big AL became involved in helping Veterans in 1995 when he moved back to Michigan and started working for Chrysler and we are so glad he did. Even a drunk driver who struck him in 2005 resulting in him losing his left leg could not deter him from accomplishing so much over the years. What he has done in the Veteran Community is truly remarkable. It would take forever to list all the groups he belongs to and positions he has held so just to highlight a few:
Too top it all off, accompanied by his best friend Boss, Big Al and his bugle is a familiar sight playing taps for our departed comrades at many military funerals and ceremonies including Arlington National Cemetery. He is proud to be a Veteran, proud of the service he has given to his nation and with his Service Dog Boss he is still serving and advocating for Veteran issues, Semper Fidelis.
In preparation for the battles of the American Revolution, future President John Adams drafted a resolution to create "two Battalions of Marines," which was adopted by the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775. Over the next two centuries, Marines have deployed across the globe and completed countless missions to maintain America's security. Every year, on November 10, the military branch celebrates its birthday.
On Sunday November 10, 2019, 244 years later, we hope as many Marines as possible land in Downtown Detroit at our 14th Annual Detroit Veterans Day Parade and lets their fellow Veterans help them celebrate their birthday.
Hopefully the Detroit Veterans Day Parade will bring leathernecks back to a time when they were surrounded by their brothers and sisters.
There are approximately 194,000 Marines actively serving today, with another 40,000 Marines serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
PARADE GRAND MARSHAL BARRY WOOD
State of Michigan 2019-2020
The American Legion
Barry Wood from American Legion Post 45 in Hastings was elected the 2019-2020 Department Commander.
Commander Barry Wood earned his eligibility in the American Legion through his service in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War Era. He shipped to basic training in January of 1966 at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago.
Commander Wood was born in Grand Rapids and graduated from Hastings High School.
He served four years in the Navy as a military intelligence collector and analyst, leaving the Navy at the rank of Petty Officer Second Class.
In 1973, Commander Wood reenlisted in the U.S. Army, in the military intelligence field. He served in the enlisted ranks for seven years until being commissioned as a chief warrant officer. He retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 in 1989. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration.
In 1995, Commander Wood was elected to the Hastings City Council where he served for 18 years.
Commander Wood is married to Margaret; they have two daughters and two grandchildren.
VETERAN OF HONOR HONORABLE FEDERAL JUDGE DAMON J KEITH
Damon J Keith was a federal judge with a long and prolific career, serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for more than 40 years. Presiding over courts in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, Keith never retired, serving until his death at 96. His most notable decision was in a 1971 case regarding the Nixon Administration. Nixon's Justice Department was wiretapping people suspected of conspiring to bomb a CIA office, and they were doing it without court orders. Keith ordered them to cease wiretapping without warrants. The Justice Department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Keith's decision 8-0. Keith was also known for a 1971 order to desegregate schools in Pontiac, Michigan via bussing, as well as for upholding the affirmative action policy in the Detroit Police Department; and he presided over the longest-running-still onoing-housing discrimination case in US. history (lasting more than 48 years).
He was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II and served in a time of military segregation, working in an all-black unit assigned to kitchen duties. After the war, he attended law school at the historically black Howard University, finding notable mentors in future Supreme Court judge Thurgood Marshall and William Hastie, who would become the U.S.'s first black federal judge. Keith founded one of Detroit's first black law firms, and just three years later, he was appointed a federal judge. He was appointed a Federal Judge to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
His impact on Detroit and his fight for equality under the law is visible from the Damon J Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University to his chambers at the Theodore Levin Courthouse on Lafayette Boulevard to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which Keith rescued from closure several years ago.
“Judge Damon J Keith was a great lawyer, activist — and became an icon. A hero to so many. This nation is indebted to him for the work he did to make America more just. 'Democracy dies in the dark' was written by this great man. That phrase is so relevant today.” —Eric Holder, former Attorney General of the United States