‘Dethatched’ Marine Brigade donates car, brings holiday cheer to Marine, his family

20 Jan 2006 | Lance Cpl. Zachary Dyer

“Marines take care of their own.”The members of the 1st Marine Brigade “Dethatched” have done their best to prove that. Most recently, they delivered a car to a Fightertown Marine. For more than a decade, the Brigade has donated clothes, food, computers, to assist Marines and sailors aboard the Air Station. “The Brigade donates almost everything a needy Marine might need,” said William “Bull” Fossum, the “commander” of the Brigade. “We bring truckloads of toys and gifts to the children of those Marines at Christmas time. We also donate toys and cash to the children’s Christmas party at Laurel Bay.”On Dec. 16, the Brigade surprised Lance Cpl. Wendell Biddle, magazine crew team member for Air Station Ordnance, with a 1988 Cadillac Cimarron. “When (Fossum) called down about a month ago asking if a Marine was in need of a car, the first name that popped into my mind was Biddle’s,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Pethe, the Air Station Ordnance chief. “He’s got a wife and a son, and his wife is pregnant with twins. Because they only have one car, it makes it difficult for Biddle to get to work.”With the help of the Brigade and his leaders, Biddle’s fortunes changed quickly. Marines from the ordnance section drove the car from Calabash, N.C., where the Brigade is stationed, to surprise him here.“I was taking a bus driving class and when I came home from work, my wife said that Master Sergeant Pethe had called and said we were getting a car,” Biddle said. “It was a great surprise. It’s a good example of staff non-commissioned officers and officers being in tune with the needs of their Marines.”Biddle was appreciative of the car and of the Brigade’s efforts.“I think it’s great that they are helping Marines that need it,” Biddle said.Members of the Brigade have been coming to the Air Station for 13 years. Besides bringing donations, they attend change of command ceremonies, retirements and award ceremonies. The members of the Brigade enjoy spending their time aboard Fightertown, according to Fossum.“I am so damn proud of the Marines and sailors aboard the Air Station that I almost burst,” said Fossum. “I see a level of professionalism and dedication that far exceeds their years. And be advised, I speak for all the men and women in the Brigade that have come in contact with them. When we return from one of our trips to the Air Station, my people can’t say enough about their experience and the personnel aboard.”The Brigade, created in 1993 and stationed in Calabash, N.C., is part of the Calabash Elks Lodge and is made up of former Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel.The name “Dethatched” came from a play on words between detached, which most military members recognize as being separated from a unit, and the like-sounding dethatched, which refers to the “dethatching” of most of the members’ hair. In 2005, the Elks Lodge won first place among 2,000 other lodges nationally for their service to veterans, according to Fossum.“Our membership is open to anyone, whether he is a Marine or not, who has that special concern for our country and its active duty personnel and their families,” Fossum said. “What I am trying to say is that there is a deep, very deep feeling of compassion for the young servicemen and women of today. We try to do what little we can to make life a little better for you.”The leaders of Fightertown are the key in the Brigade’s success in helping young service members, according to Fossum.“We maintain contact with the sergeants major and chaplains of Parris Island and MCAS Beaufort who supply us with lists of needy families,” Fossum said. “Colonel Lanham (the Air Station commanding officer) and Colonel Walsh (Marine Aircraft Group 31 commanding officer) have been the reason that we are able to operate so efficiently. Both of these officers are ‘on board’ with our program and support our efforts 100 percent.”“Marines take care of Marines,” Pethe said. “These guys are taking care of Marines.”