During the funeral for U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, the commandant of the Marine Corps announced that Young is now an honorary Marine, which he called "the absolute very highest honor we could have bestowed on this valiant warrior."
That announcement led to a dramatic moment during the graveside memorial for Young, who spent nine years in the Army National Guard and another six as an Army reservist long before becoming chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
"Earlier today, just an hour ago, I was privileged to make Chairman Young an honorary United States Marine," Gen. James Amos told the throng of mourners at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.
"While he was physically absent during my remarks with Beverly and the family, he was most assuredly there in spirit," Amos said. "He is now officially one of us."
During the graveside service at Bay Pines, a U.S. Navy corpsman named Matt Ivy spoke up about how Marines always watch out for one another. Ivy held aloft his own Fleet Marine Force pin, which is given to Navy enlisted members who are assigned to the Fleet Marine Force of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Then, with the Young family's permission, Ivy turned and stuck it on the congressman's casket. He said afterward he did that because "we always say that every Marine needs a good doc." Young, he said, had always been "a good doc" for fixing any problems facing the military.
Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected]