Thousands Kick-off Marine Week in Public Square

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CLEVELAND – Marine Week has officially taken over downtown, with thousands coming to honor those who’ve served.

“The men and women of the Marine Corps, hundreds of whom are from Ohio, serve unselfishly at home and throughout the world to protect liberty and justice for all Americans,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, at the kick-off celebration Monday morning.

More than 60 events will celebrate the Corps this week, including several programs down in Public Square, said Lt. Col. Michael Hubbard, an inspector instructor for the area’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines.

“We have jets. We`re going to have helicopters, we`re going to have tanks, we`re going to have light-armored vehicles, we`ve going to have artillery here,” Hubbard said. “This is a way of us being able to say ‘thank you,’ it`s a way of us being able to show you what we do, how we do it and to listen to some stories.”

Featured events of the week, include a traveling Vietnam War Memorial, military dog training workshops, martial arts demonstrations, technology expos, and performances by Quantico Marine Band. Many of the events will happen in Public Square, where people can also get into tanks and other military vehicles.

This year marks the centennial of Marine Corps aviation and the 50th anniversary of Operation SHUFLY.

SHUFLY was the first operational Marine aviation unit to deploy to Vietnam in 1962.

Englewood native, retired Marine Cpl. Herbert Smith was one of four veterans honored with a special pin at the ceremony.

“It is amazing to be here and to see,” Smith said. “We had letter to the house and e-mails. But you just couldn`t imagine this that it would be this big of deal.”

Smith hopes people will come down to Public Square to meet the Marines and celebrate the 9,000 other active and reserve personnel from the state.

“It`s just fantastic for the acknowledgement, let alone the Vietnam acknowledgement,” Smith said. “ You don’t get this opportunity. You know what I’m saying? It`s fantastic. We`re really enjoying it.”