This is a story about courage, honor and commitment. It begins on a chilly December day in 1942, when a young man enlisted in the US Marine Corps. Boot Camp at Parris Island hardened him, and paratrooper training at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, readied him for jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.
The 5th Battalion, 1st Marine Division beckoned, and off he went to Guadalcanal. Wounded by shrapnel, decorated with the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, and promoted to Corporal, his journey was just beginning.
Back in action by 1944, Iwo Jima awaited. A Platoon Sergeant now, he crawled his way to victory, severely wounded, yet triumphant. Silver Star, another Purple Heart, Staff Sergeant - accolades for a hero.
Korea called him next. The bitter cold of the Chosin Reservoir, a massive counterattack, and an unyielding spirit that earned him the Navy Cross, a third Purple Heart, and a battlefield commission to 2nd Lt.
A humorous side note: When he was being decorated in Korea by the legendary Marine general "Chesty" Puller, the general, who had also been at Guadalcanal, said to him “I noticed you do not have a Good Conduct Ribbon." To which he replied “Neither do you general.” Not something a brand new 2nd lieutenant would normally say, but Puller had once remarked “If the Marine Corps expected you to behave, they wouldn't challenge you with a Good Conduct Medal. Take me to the brig. I want to see the real Marines."
Years passed, and Vietnam beckoned. Now a Major, then a Lt. Colonel, he again answered the call. His career was a testament to service and sacrifice. After a career of 30 years, boots hung up, he finally rested.
So, who was this man, this Marine, this hero? His story doesn't end with the medals, the accolades, or even the wars.
Why is this relevant?
It lies in a simple connection, a tie that binds this hero to San Juan Capistrano Rotary. You see, Lt. Col. JB Koffs was the father of Dave Koffs, which explains Dave’s ardent support of our Marines.