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Veterans’ Voices Honoring our men and women in uniform By MARY DRENNON Special to the Tribune-Herald O n Nov. 10, the U.S. Marine Corps celebrated its anniversary. For 245 years, the Marine Corps has been training its recruits in one of the most rigorous programs in the military. Ralph Getman, 67, of Bosqueville, is a proud Marine veteran. Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, he was raised in Waco most of his life. Playing track and football in high school, he graduated in 1971 from University High School and joined the Marine Corps in the summer of that year. “I thought that (the Marines) would be the biggest challenge,” Getman said. His basic training took him to San Diego, California, followed by infantry training, as all Marines must know how to fight, Getman said. U.S. Marine veteran Ralph Getman spent the bulk of his military service in Japan and other Asian countries as a crew chief flying on cargo missions. U.S. MARINE This was followed by advanced training in jet mechanics in Millington, Tennessee. He initially trained on the F-4 Phantom, but when the war ended in Vietnam, there was no need for jet mechanics on the F-4. He then switched to cargo jets that carried goods and sometimes personnel. Getman was assigned a duty station at the Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan, located off the Hiroshima Bay. It’s known for its wooden Kintai Bridge, with five arches spanning the Nishiki River. Active in the East Getman flew cargo missions around the East. He was a crew chief who was assigned his own plane. He was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the aircraft. “I really loved Japan,” Getman said. “I loved flying around to different countries. Everywhere I tried to experience the culture and food of each country.” They would stay either in barracks or hotels. While there was no war, that didn’t mean he was always safe. Once, for example, an engine blew out, but they were able to make it back to base safely. Other times, they would break down and have to stay longer than intended. Photo by Mary Drennon “It was an older aircraft, so it was prone to breaking down,” he added. Getman visited a wealth of countries, including Taiwan and Korea, where he said they once flew into blizzard-like conditions. “I can’t recall the mission, but it must have been important for us to fly in that weather,” he said. Getman didn’t get assigned any other stations before being returned home, where he was honorably discharged as a sergeant in the summer of 1977. He spent two additional years in the inactive Reserves. Back home Getman returned to Waco, where he took a job at the Veterans Affairs hospital. For two years, he was a nurse’s aide. Then he went into the concrete business, where he’s been ever since. In the early 1980s he married Marta Vandorn. They have three children and five grandchildren. In 1985, Getman joined the Marine Corps League in Waco. He served as a commandant in the early ’90s, but the longtime runner’s real legacy is the 574 Youngblood Road, Waco, Texas, 76706 • 254.662.5571 • Leatherneck Run, which was held in Waco recently (generally around the Marine Corps’ annual birthday). The Leatherneck Run was started by Getman and others in 2001 to raise funds in a 5K run for fellow Marines of League 975 in Waco. About 150 participate in the run. Getman is the Leatherneck Run director and has been doing the run about 19 years now. It all ties into his Marine Corps service and the service of Marines in general. The Marine Corps League promotes the interest and preserves traditions of the U.S. Marine Corps. For Getman, service is part of his tradition. “Marine is a title earned,” Getman said. “The motto is ‘Once a Marine always a Marine.’ It stays with you for life. It’s a brotherhood. We live by the motto ‘Semper Fidelis’ (always faithful).” “Veterans’ Voices,” featuring stories about Central Texas veterans, publishes every Sunday. To suggest a story about a Central Texas veteran, please email “Veterans’ Voices” is proudly sponsored by Johnson Roofing. At Johnson Roofing, we believe in America and proudly stand behind the men and women of our armed forces.

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