Honor Freedom At Usmc's Birthday

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Veteran's Day isn't the only celebration of America's military that's coming up for observation. One day prior, Saturday, Nov. 10, the country and Payson will participate in the 226th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Locally, the gala will take place at 6 p.m at the Inn of Payson. The evening's highlight will be the guest of honor and featured speaker: retired Lt. Colonel David L. Althoff, USMC.

"Last year, the well over 100 attendees enjoyed an outstanding dinner and a spectacular birthday program, highlighted by the traditional cake-cutting ceremony," retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Bill Sahno of Payson said. "This year, we look forward to a superb dinner selection prepared and presented by Chef Gerardo Moceri of the local popular restaurant, Cucina Paradiso."

According to Sahno, Althoff served in Korea as well as two combat tours in Vietnam, flying more than 1,000 combat missions and earning 78 medals and decorations including three Silver Star medals, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star Medal with combat "V," 54 air medals and numerous other campaign medals and ribbons.

An Arizona native now living in Tempe, Althoff retired from active duty with more than 5,000 hours of flight time and having qualified to pilot 26 different makes and models of aircraft and helicopters. In 1968, he received the Alfred A. Cunningham Award as the Marine Corps Aviator of the Year, and was enshrined in the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame in April of last year..

"Although designed to recognize a specific historic event, the Marine Corps Birthday Celebration is intended to be a community happening, drawing together all our citizens ..." Sahno said. "This is an opportunity which allows the American patriots in our community to draw together and recognize an event which optimizes the embodiment of the freedoms that we enjoy and for which we express our thanks at this special time of the year."

Advance reservations are required. To RSVP, call Rich Roy at 474-9559. For information, call Ray Schum at 474-1622.

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