By Cpl. Damien Gutierrez | USMC | Marines.mil | June 28, 2011
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. â€” The legacy and tradition of one Camp Pendleton Marine who changed the lives of hundreds of wounded veterans was given new life at the place where it all began.
A new Semper Fi Fund program alongside Camp Pendleton's Stepp Stables kicked off the new Jinx McCain Warrior Riding Program with a dedication ceremony, June 22.
The riding program was dedicated in memory of retired Col. Jinx McCain, who passed away May 3, 2003. While stationed at Camp Pendleton in the early 1960s, Jinx would host trail rides for the amputees from Vietnam to help rehabilitate the spirits of those returning home with combat injuries.
To begin the ceremony, a presentation by the Marine Corpsâ€™ Mounted Color Guard from Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, Calif., was performed for attendees.
Jinx McCainâ€™s daughter, Debbie McCain, began the eveningâ€™s ceremony by speaking about her fatherâ€™s distinguished military career and shared stories of his triumphs and dedication during his time in and out of the Corps.
McCain was a four-time Purple Heart recipient from Iwo Jima, Korea and the Vietnam War.
â€œI have so much to be proud of my father for, not just because of his military career and the things he did but for simply just being a dad,â€ said Debbie McCain, who currently works at the Stepp Stables. â€œThis is a great honor that has been bestowed upon my father from this wonderful group of men and women that ride here at Pendleton and Team Semper Fi.â€
Team Semper Fi, whose motto is "Recovery Through Sport," is a rehabilitative sports program offered by the Semper Fi Fund comprised of more than 200 injured service members who compete in athletic events throughout the U.S. The team is made up of Marines who have suffered a combat-related injury and refused to let their disability prevent them from doing what they do best - compete.
Col. John Mayer, commanding officer, Wounded Warrior Regiment and Karen Gunther, founder and president of the Semper Fi Fund where also in attendance to welcome in the new riding program.
â€œThe Semper Fi Fund is honored and privileged to have this moment to name this great program after such a legend,â€ said Gunther. â€œWe have a lot of work to do, and have a lot of wonderful people to help us on our way.â€
Curriculum for the Jinx McCain Warrior Riding Program is currently under development, but is expected to start within a few months.
To conclude the evening ceremony, a plaque presented by the Semper Fi Fund was given to Debbie McCain for her hard work and dedication for making the Jinx McCain Warrior Riding Program possible.
â€œI have so much to be thankful for from my father and all these Marines that give us that one thing that separates us from every other nation in the world - freedom,â€ said Debbie McCain. â€œI do this because without their support and help that we have every day, we couldnâ€™t be called the greatest nation in the world.â€