‘Kings Of Battle' Marines Clean Up Homeless Veterans Shelter
(January 2, 2011)
Sgt. Bryan Armstrong, data chief, and Cpl.
Justin Jackson, radio technician, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion,
12th Marine Regiment, pull vines from a chain-link fence while
volunteering at the Waianae Civic Center in Waianae, Hawaii, Dec. 17,
2010. Only hours before departing on winter holiday leave, 20
Headquarters Co. Marines volunteered their time to clean up the grounds
of the center, which houses homeless veterans and their families.
WAIANAE CIVIC CENTER, WAIANAE, Hawaii (MCN
-12/21/2010) — Marines are imbued with a
willingness to serve — from the time they swear
an oath to defend their country to the time they
join the fight overseas.
They make sacrifices to protect their families
and friends, the men and women to their left and
right, and honor those who served before them.
Twenty Marines recently volunteered to help
those who served the country and lost so much,
to try to make a difference in their lives.
Only hours before departing on their winter
holiday leave, communications Marines with
Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine
Regiment, paid their blessings forward by
cleaning up a homeless veterans shelter — the
Waianae Civic Center — in Waianae, Hawaii, Dec.
“If I was ever put in a situation where I lost
everything and didn't have anything left, I
think it'd be something else to see a group of
young Marines come and take some of their own
time to help me,” said Cpl. Michael Losi, a
radio operator with Headquarters Company, 1/12.
After completing tours to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in
2009, Losi is nearing the end of his enlistment. He will
soon return home to Boston to pursue firefighting, but said
he wanted to finish his time in the Marine Corps by giving
Growing up in Boston's Hyde Park Town, Losi learned about
service from his parents. Over the past seven years, his
parents have raised $135,000 for a homeless veterans shelter
Losi contacted the center's staff and volunteered to travel
to Waianae and clean up the grounds of the center with 19
other Marines from his unit.
When they arrived, the Marines got busy cleaning the
grounds. They split up into teams, pulling weeds along fence
lines, tearing vines off of chain-link fences and painting
lines in the parking lot.
“We're trying to make a difference out here,” said Cpl.
Antonio Garcia, a wireman with Headquarters Co., 1/12.
“Whether it's small or big, we're making a difference in a
The Chicago native said veterans are often forgotten, so the
Marines volunteered to show there are still people thinking
According to Rita Martin, the center's resident manager,
there are more than 200,000 homeless veterans in the U.S.
The center, opened in 2007 by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, is
operated by the United States Veterans Initiative, the
nation's largest non-profit provider of services to veterans
facing challenges in their transition to civilian life. It
provides housing and transitional programs for approximately
“There's so much need on the island” to help homeless
veterans, Martin said. She said another center at Barbers
Point houses homeless singles, but the Waianae Civic Center
is the first to service both homeless veterans and their
“Our staff feels very proud our Marines are here to help,”
Martin said. “We owe a lot to our service members, and we
want to continue to serve our veterans in any way we can.”
In spring 2011, the Marines of 1/12 are set to deploy to
Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Nonetheless, in the midst of their intensive pre-deployment
training, they chose to dedicate their time to a cause other
than their own.
Master Sgt. Rodney Harriss, battalion communication chief,
1/12, said volunteering to clean up the shelter was an
important break from being “consumed by everyday Marine
Growing up in “humble beginnings” in Cleveland, Harriss
said, “We're taking what we've been blessed with and paying
Article and photo by USMC LCpl. Reece Lodder
Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Marine Corps News
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