For the eighth consecutive year, the Payson detachment of the Marine Corps League hosted a gala celebration in honor of the 227th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps.
The Best Western Inn of Payson dining room, packed to capacity, listened to addresses delivered by former Marine Sergeants Major Chuck Johnson and Ray Schum, as well as guest, former First Sergeant Robert Canright, a high-ranking Marine Corps League Official. The Marine Corps Annual Celebration, an adjunct to Payson’s Veterans’ Day tribute, was highlighted by a spectacular cake-cutting ceremony enjoyed by all in attendance.
This year, the Payson Marines had as their special guest of honor former Marine and Korean War Veteran Roger Ballard. Roger is best known for his walk from Payson to Scottsdale last year to emphasize an awareness for ALS, commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” and, more recently, in an article featured in the Payson Roundup about his ill-fated trip to Seattle to visit his children.
Roger is a victim of ALS, and cannot speak due to his illness. He requested, however, that a hand-written message be delivered to those in attendance. According to retired Marine Colonel Bill Sahno, “Although many events occurred in Payson Nov. 10, 2002, for those in attendance, the eloquent and moving message by Roger Ballard will be especially remembered. For the tribute he offered was not toward Marines or even Veterans, but specifically and categorically directed to the respect we owe to women and their role in our lives and that of our nation. Thank you Marines, thank you Payson, and Semper Fidelis Roger Ballard.”
Bill Sahno, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)