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"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

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Four generations hits 105 years of service

By Pfc. Samuel Ellis | | May 30, 2013

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 By definition, legacy is something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past. For the Gerichten family, with three generations and five Marines, legacy has a 105-year span of service to their country.

That legacy began with a man named Bill and his wife Joan from Kernersville, N.C.

 Their legacy stretched to the second generation - their two sons, Glenn and William II - and now continues with the third generation, William III.

"I am very, very proud [of my family and our service]," said Bill Gerichten, retired Marine officer.  "We live and breathe the Marine Corps."

Bill is what the Marines call a mustang, having served in the enlisted and officer ranks before retiring as a lieutenant colonel after 27 years of service.

“When I was 17 [1945], I told my dad I wanted to go into the Marine Corps, and my dad didn't understand,” said Gerichten."Nobody in our family had ever done it, but I wanted to join the heroes."                     

His many duties included drill instructer, guard on the freedom train, infantry officer and machine gunner. Gerichten survived the Korean conflict having served at the Chosin Reservoir, and met his wife Joan, who also served in the Corps.

"[In those days] lady Marines could not be married and have children,” said Gerichten.

After serving nine years, Joan Gerichten left the Corps.

"It broke her heart," said Gerichten. "When the rules changed she joined the reserves.

Joan served 11 years with the reserves before retiring as a staff sergeant with 20 years of service.

"My parents encouraged us to be the best in everything we did,” said Glenn Gerichten, retired Marine officer.  "Whenever I faced adversity, I had great inner strength knowing my parents had overcome more difficult situations."

"My father was always there for us with love and encouragement," said his brother William II, also a retired Marine officer.

The second generation followed their parents footsteps, William II served 27 years and retired as a lieutenant colonel, and Glenn served 25 years and retired as a major.

Their accomplishments are many. Among other things, William II worked as an instructor at The Citadel, served with the British Royal Marines and in Marine reconnaissance. Glenn also served in various capacities including: parachutist, tank officer, engineer officer and logistics officer.

"One hundred four years is a very unique and proud accomplishment," said Glenn. "[We had] very strong ties to serve our nation."

None of the Gerichten family felt pressured by their predecessors to join the Corps, instead they all shared the love and pride of it.

"Why play for another team when you have been part of the best team?" said William II.

Today Capt. William Gerichten III, who’s Marine Corps career is starting seven years, currently serves as the officer-in-charge at the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

“Growing up, I understood esprit de corps, deployment hardships and moving around,” said the youngest Gerichten. “In the Marine Corps I saw people who believed in a mission and could carry it out. The Marine Corps is such a big part of the Gerichten family”

The Gerichtens are humble people, not wanting recognition for themselves, but always trying to shine the spotlight on others.

“I’m very proud of all my family who have served,” said the eldest Gerichten. “If I could leave a legacy, it would be one of hard work, dedication, pride in being called a Marine, and getting goose bumps when you see the flag go by. It’s not all sunny days, but having each other is what made you strong.”

Correspondent: samuel.l.ellis@usmc.mil


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