Local Vets Celebrate Marines’ Birthday

By Jano Tantongco

jtantongco@longislandergroup.com

William Ober, past commandant of the Marine Corps League of Huntington, cuts the cake halfway to pass on to the sword to the youngest member.

William Ober, past commandant of the Marine Corps League of Huntington, cuts the cake halfway to pass on to the sword to the youngest member.

Just one day before Veterans Day, members of the Marine Corps League of Huntington, Detachment 792, came togetherto celebrate an occasion dating back to before our nation was formed. It was the birthday of the United State Marine Corps.

“We’re 241 years old today. We call this the ‘Passing of Tradition,’ ” said Howard Blackmore, who served two tours in Vietnam from 1966-1968.

He said that, in this tradition, the oldest marine cuts the celebratory cake halfway with the sword, and the youngest marine continues the cut. This symbolizes passing down the Marine Corps’ traditions from one generation to the next.

“From the oldest to the youngest, and then he will continue this and this has been continued for 241 years,” Blackmore said.

At the celebration last Thursday at Finnegan’s Restaurant and Tap Room in Huntington village, the oldest marine was 75-year-old William Ober, past commandant of the MCL from 2004-2014.

“It’s to pass on our traditions from one generation to the next,” said Ober, who’s been living in the town for the past 48 years.

He served in Cuba from 1961-1967. He’s also the chairman of the board of Veterans Advisory Committee for the Town of Huntington, as of last year.

As he cut the cake, he passed the sword along to 40-year-old Tim Kraus, of East Northport. Krausserved from 1995-1999, and was based in Albania in 1997. He’s also retired from the New York City Police Department.

Tommy Forte, manager of Finnegan’s, said the pub has served as the “headquarters” for local Marines for the past 10 years, ever since Blackmore first approached Forte to use the space for the celebration.

“I said, ‘Sure, come on down.’ And it’s been a tradition now for 10 years,” Forte said. “This country wouldn’t be here without the Marines.”