Showing posts with label U.S. Marine Corps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label U.S. Marine Corps. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2024

Community mourns loss of beloved Korean War veteran Walter Braley Jr.

By Ed Pierce

One of the humblest military heroes you’ll ever meet and a genuine friend to everyone who knew him has died at the age of 92.

U.S. Marine Corps and Korean War veteran Walter
Braley Jr. waves to parade vehicles driving by his
home in the Cornerbrook subdivision in Windham
on his 90th birthday on Oct. 10, 2021. Braley
died on Father's Day, June 16, at the age of 92.
Korean War veteran Walter Braley Jr. of Windham passed away peacefully at his home in the Cornerbrook subdivision on Father’s Day, June 16.

Born in Somesville, a village on Mount Desert Island in Maine, as the only child of Walter Sr. and Eva Braley, his family moved to Scarborough when he was 10 so that his parents could work in a shipyard there. He attended schools in Scarborough until he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947 at the age of 17. Braley completed basic training at Camp Lejune in North Carolina and then was sworn in for active military duty by the late Maine U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith.

He rose to the rank of Sergeant in the Marines and was stationed at bases in Cuba and California and then was sent to South Korea during the Korean War. While in Korea, one of his duties was to patrol the DMZ, the no man’s land separating South Korea from its hostile North Korea neighbor.

“I walked across the DMZ before Donald Trump ever did a few years ago when he did so with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un,” Braley said. “I did it first.”

While stationed at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, Braley was asked to transport up a fellow Marine to the base, and it turned out to be future county music superstar George Jones, who was just about to launch his recording career.

Braley said they became good friends, and he would accompany Jones when he would go out with his friends on weekend leave and perform songs in exchange for drinks.

Years later when Jones was in Maine to perform a concert, he introduced the audience to Braley and asked him where he had been since he last saw him in the 1950s.

“Right here,” Braley is said to have told him.

Because of an injury he sustained in Korea, Braley was discharged from the Marines at the rank of Sergeant and returned home to Maine. He found work with the Delaware Feed Grain Store, as a truck driver for Maine Egg, a dog groomer for Dutton Animal Hospital in Saco and then at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, a position from which he retired after 35 years of service. Braley was a longtime pet owner and served as a Maine State Humane Agent and an advocate for suffering animals.

Following his retirement, Braley spent time volunteering for the Bruce Roberts Fund and Meals on Wheels. As a veteran, he became active in Windham Post 10643 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Westbrook, holding various board positions and serving on other church committees.

On his 90th birthday in October 2021, a parade was held outside his home to commemorate his birthday and at that event Braley was presented with a Quilt of Honor by Cindy Beaulieu of the Quilts of Honor group.

“First we honor you for your service,” Beaulieu told Braley. “Second, freedom is not free, and we thank you for your service. We hope this quilt brings comfort to you as you are forever in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

Braley said receiving the quilt and having a parade in his honor was one of the most moving experiences of his lifetime.

““I just want to say thanks to everyone for coming out here today and recognizing me in this way,” Braley said. “You’ve made me feel appreciated and you can’t ask for more than that in this life. I’m deeply grateful and to all my fellow Marines, I say Semper Fi.”

Known affectionately to his family as “Junie,” Braley loved to hunt, fish, and spend time with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at their camp on Thomas Pond.

Surviving Braley are his wife Nina, four daughters, one son, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22 at the First Baptist Church of Westbrook, 733 Main St. in Westbrook. A graveside ceremony with full military honors will be conducted for Braley at the South Gorham Cemetery on Burnham Road in Gorham. <

Friday, January 27, 2023

Raymond resident launches military career as U.S. Marine

By Ed Pierce

If boot camp is a strong indication of the direction that his military career may take, Austin Goslant of Raymond is off to a promising start.

Private First Class Austin Goslant of Raymond
was honored as one of five Honor Graduates
during the Jan. 134 graduation ceremony for
new recruits at the U.S. Marine Corps boot
camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Goslant, a 2022 graduate of Windham High School, said that he decided to become a United States Marine because it’s always been a childhood dream and he knew it wouldn’t be easy. Never one to back down from a challenge, Goslant left the Lakes Region on Oct. 22, determined to excel at the 13-week test of moral, mental and physical strength at the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp and recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Awakened at 4 a.m. by the sound of a bugle called “Reveille,” Marine Corps recruits present themselves for accountability and following a regimen of personal hygiene and morning clean-up, they undergo rigorous physical training from Monday through Saturdays. After a morning meal, the recruits begin the day's scheduled training, which typically includes classes, drills, or martial arts. On Sundays, recruits are offered the morning to attend various religious services and take personal time for personal activities such as writing letters, working out, doing laundry, or preparing uniforms and equipment.

“Some training and activities I did were obstacle courses, shooting range, marching and drilling, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, a lot of running, learning how to use tourniquets, how to read a map and compass, combat maneuvers and formations, and Marine Corps knowledge and customs,” Goslant said. “What I enjoyed most about boot camp was the constant exercise and being surrounded by other Marines and recruits who have similar goals to me. The brother and sisterhood you form doesn’t compare to any friendship from high school and earlier.”

He said what he disliked the most about boot camp were recruits that didn’t want to improve themselves and not try as hard as everyone else.

“They would hold us back constantly. I also had a hard time being away from my family,” he said.

Embracing each new challenge that came his way at boot camp as an opportunity, Goslant turned out to be a standout Marine Corps recruit at Parris Island.

“I became the Guide and Honor Graduate for my platoon because the original dudes that were in charge didn’t cut it. The guide before me ran out of the gas chamber and cried like a baby,” Goslant said. ”I showed my Drill Instructors how much I wanted to be the leader of the platoon by how badly I wanted to earn the title United States Marine, by getting good test scores, shooting high expert at the range, and having high first class Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness test scores.”

He said that the platoon guide has to be the picture perfect recruit and Marine, always trying to do the

right thing and be a good example for the rest of the platoon to follow.

“I originally went to boot camp not wanting to be one of those guys that stands out from everyone else because everyone told me to keep my head down, but I noticed how important it was for me to step up and build my leadership skills so I could be a better leader in the future,” Goslant said. “Boot camp really made me reflect on my past, thinking about my entire outlook on life and how to interact with others changed. I can say I improved as a man because of what I went through on Parris Island.”

On Jan. 13, Goslant graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp, leading his platoon across the parade deck as one of five Honor Graduates out of a graduating class of 264 Marines.

It was a moment of great pride for him as his family and friends were able to travel to Parris Island to watch the graduation ceremony.

“I had a big group at graduation. My mom Tammy, my dad Albert, my brother Jake, grandmother, aunt, and uncle, and my second family, the Morteros, were there,” he said. “It was an emotional experience seeing my loved ones again.”

He’s a Private First Class, E-2, currently stationed with his recruiters in Scarborough, Auburn, and Brunswick until February when he will be attending the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Geiger in North Carolina.

“ I have a five- year Infantry contract and I’m hoping to be a 0311 (Rifleman),” Goslant said. “Some

things I look forward to doing during my career are to become a better leader and person, travel the world, meet good people, go to college, and keep our country, community, and my loved ones safe.”

Now that boot camp is in his rear view mirror, Goslant says in his spare time he likes spending time with his family, working out, playing video games, listening to music, and playing guitar.

“Some advice I would give to anyone who wants to earn the title United States Marine or join any of the branches is to be comfortable being uncomfortable and strive to be better every day,” he said. “Everything in the Marine Corps is a competition so you should set goals to make yourself better than those around you. A strong mind leads to a strong body.” <