Marine Corps League chartered in Columbus

A 10-year effort to form a Marine Corps League in the Columbus area ended Saturday after 26 Marines became charter members during a ceremony at Fort Benning.

“It’s an honor to have a Georgia detachment, finally,” commander Robert King said after a ceremony at the Marine Training Company at Harmony Church.

Forming the league gives old and young Marines a chance to continue serving their community even after taking off the uniform. The nonprofit organization helps with the Toy For Tots program, Marines in need and other community projects.

King said the organization also will be involved in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in Smith Station. “Mainly we try to help out the community wherever we can,” he said.

Among the charter members are Columbus attorney Seth Harp and state Sen. Ed Harbison, both Vietnam War veterans.

The league is chartered more than a year after Fort Benning received a Marine Corps Detachment as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Lt. Col. Michael Muller, commander of the detachment with 300 Marines, is among the charter members.

“They are there to help,” Muller said of the league. “They also take care of Marines who retired in the area. I’m very excited to have them here.”

Howard Gould, a retired master gunnery sergeant with two tours in Vietnam, was recognized for his efforts to get the league chartered. “I could not find our leadership in this area and asked why they never had membership in this area,” said Gould, a resident of Midland.

Gould said he was told that two Columbus residents were selected to start a league but both died of heart attacks. “I jumped in and said I might not want to do it,” he said. “I’m 75 myself. I was thinking myself I might have an omen on me.”

Gould said he’s happy to be working with Marines. “It gives me a chance to be around people that I have a very strong bond with,” he said.