Springfield hosting Marine Corps League state convention

Hundreds of people cheered and waved flags along the streets of Springfield Monday morning as the annual Memorial Day Parade resturned after being canceled last year do to COVID-19. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Hundreds of people cheered and waved flags along the streets of Springfield Monday morning as the annual Memorial Day Parade resturned after being canceled last year do to COVID-19. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield will be the destination for Ohio detachments of one of the country’s major U.S. service support organizations this week.

The Marine Corps League State Convention will see more than 30 detachments and 60-70 people from throughout Ohio to the city to conduct business meetings, plan and socialize. Members started arriving Thursday and will stay through the weekend.

The convention is one of the first to be held in the city since the state started lifting coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Conventiongoers are gathering at the Courtyard by Marriott.

While the majority of attendees will commute, others are staying and can take in Springfield’s sights and add to its economy.

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An economic study conducted by the Greater Springfield Partnership for the 2019 calendar year showed tourism has a $440 millionannual impact for Clark County, according to Christopher Schutte, vice president of Destination Marketing + Communications for the partnership. Although the data cannot represent the past year, it shows tourism as the largest economic driver in the county for 2019.

“It’s great for our community any time we can bring a convention in of any size. That is more exposure for our community,” Schutte said. “A meeting of five people is just as important as a meeting of 500.”

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Springfield Detachment H. Eugene “Doak” Walker #963 will host the convention.

Stanley Williams, Judge Advocate of Springfield #963, is proud to have the event here, with meetings and activities at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Springfield. It’s a show of #963′s devotion to the cause and to hopefully build community awareness of what the organization does.

The Marine Corps League preserves traditions and promote the interests of the U.S. Marine Corps, supports current and veteran Marines who may need a helping hand, visit them at home or in retirement communities or nursing facilities and act as Honor Guard for funerals and other related events, providing 21-gun salutes and playing “Taps” with a live bugler.

Springfield community members may have seen Detachment #963 members at the military memorials at Veterans Park or recently in the Springfield Memorial Day Parade. They can also be seen at the Clark and Champaign County Fairs, South Vienna Corn Festival and Yellow Springs Street Fair in their familiar uniforms of red cap, white shirt, blue pants with red-stripe.

Williams said the League’s state division was impressed with a conference #963 ran here in 2019 and said Springfield should have a shot with the state convention.

“We said we’d love to host,” Williams said. “We’re right in the middle of the Ohio detachments. People can travel an average of an hour to an hour-and-a-half to get here. The city liked our idea and gave us their support.”

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There have also been more reservations to attend this convention and its banquet on Saturday than in recent years, which also pleases Williams. Springfield #963 is also developing into a state leader by building its membership in the past year or so, now totaling 45, when other detachments have lost numbers or remained stagnant.

Williams and #963 members won’t have to settle for just the state convention. Springfield may host a Division Vice Conference in the spring of 2022, which would bring Marine Corps League members of five states together.

“We have been noticed by the National Marine Corps League,” he said. “We’re out there and we’re doing things right.”

The League is open to honorably discharged Marines as regular members, but those who did not serve can join as associate members. Williams served four years in the 1970s and has been with the League for 18 years and he’s eager to see it continue growing here.

“We’re proud of what we do and we want people to know about what we do,” he said.

Springfield #963 meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the VFW 1031, 1237 E. Main St. For more information, contact Williams at devildog924@gmail.com.

By the numbers

30: Number of Ohio detachments expected to participate in Marine Corps League convention

$440M: Economic impact of tourism in Clark County in 2019

5: Number of states Detachment #963 could host in Springfield in 2022