Veterans Day – without our U.S. Marine Corps Captain

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2022

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On behalf of the citizens of these great United States, thank you veterans, active duty and reserve military personnel who have served our U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Space Force.

We are cognizant everyday about what you have done, currently do and will do in the future to protect our homeland and our families. We are in your debt and while it may seem at times that we forget to thank you or that we take you and your family’s sacrifice for granted, please know it is not intentional!

The great population of our military service members have blessed our nation beyond words; you have guarded our shores, our air space, our ocean blue … you have been in faraway lands in heavy combat, horrible environments and tumultuous situations for the good of America. You have lost valuable time with your family’s growth and loss; and you have sacrificed your very life and limb to protect not only us but other nations as well. You have fought against communism, tyranny, suppression and the killing of innocent men, women and children. You have put your life in jeopardy in the darkest of night, the stormiest of seas and you are our heroes. Whether you have received badges of honor, service pins above your uniform shirt pocket, stripes upon your sleeve or not, you have indeed won a place of honor and respect in our hearts.

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Thank you to your mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives and all your family members who watched you board the bus, train, ship, aircraft or other means to transport you into danger. Though in your throat you likely swallowed hard knowing you might be separated from your precious loved ones, or never see them again, you went to fulfill your duty and we applaud you. We salute you.

Not only do we thank you, but we ask God’s protection over you while you are away; we pray for success in your assignments and absolutely for your safe return. You inspire us, you give us confidence and calm … just knowing that you are there for us in times of uncertainty – you stand tall in our minds and to look at you, we must look high – up to the clouds with overwhelming respect.

Observing not only Veterans Day and in Dare County, North Carolina, Veterans Week, we celebrate you and what you stand for. We are proud of you and what you accomplish every single day … and if not in battle, just the mere fact that you continually prepare and stand ready if asked to defend us – thank you!  You make us immensely proud. What would we do without you? God bless each one of you!

A veteran friend of many passed into Heaven recently. I am so sad to hear of his departure from this world. He was an avid and faithful reader of Gig Line, and I will forever be grateful that we became friends several years ago. His name is Lee N. Baronet – a dedicated Marine proud of his service and a true gentleman that I came to know when he called to introduce himself and to thank me for writing my column. He started out saying, “Is this Marsha Mann Brown?” and I would reply, “Yes,” and as time went on, I would answer, “Yes, is this Lee N. Baronet?” It was a joke between us and after that first time, we always addressed each other using our full names which always made me smile.

The first time I heard from him was after he had read one of my Gig Line stories about my unwavering love for my husband, Billy. He had called to tell me how much it meant to him because he also dearly loved his wife Becky, who had passed not all that long before Billy and about how he deeply missed her. He bragged on how beautiful she was, how petite, how she was meticulous when it came to picking out his clothing and just how he found her to be the dearest, sweetest love of his life.

In some of our phone conversations, he would tell me bits and pieces about his service and he also made me aware that there were soldiers, sailors and airmen but then – there were the Marines! He made no bones about it. His pride filled career with the U.S. Marine Corps, caused him to distinguish that in his eyes, the Marine Corps was the ultimate military service branch.

He thanked me, too, for my Billy’s service as a U.S. Army sergeant who served in Vietnam during TET. Though he had only met my husband once before when Billy issued Lee N. Baronet his Dare County Veteran Discount Card, he seemed impressed with Billy and pleased too that I let the entire world know just how special he was. Lee N. Baronet was a sweetheart who on occasion drove to Manteo and brought me a tin of chocolate covered peanuts and/or big cans of the premium salted mixed nuts always with a little note inside the box. This outstanding patriot made it clear he was a devout Catholic; that he contributed often to various and worthy organizations; that he terribly missed “his” Becky and that he adored his daughters.

The picture above was taken at our church – Manteo First Assembly – Youth House, where I organized our annual holiday craft shows. While I was sitting at the welcome table, in walks this spiffy fella who approached the table with his hand outstretched. Though I had never seen him in person before, I knew immediately who he was! Then he said, “Are you Marsha Mann Brown?” and I answered immediately, “Yes, and are you Lee N. Baronet?” We both laughed aloud, and he told me he had driven from Kitty Hawk to come meet me face-to-face. What a dear man! I invited him to pull up a chair and sit for a while, which he did and then we took the picture. Especially now, that picture wearing my crazy reindeer headband is a treasure – a keepsake – a memory about a veteran I will never, ever forget.

We had a plan. We had every intention of getting together so I could hear and write about his “petite Greek goddess, Becky” and his military service, but then, Covid-19 reared its ugly head and that darned virus nixed our plan for a sit-down interview. It was a joy to talk to him and hear about Becky and their love for each other – I could identify when he spoke of his loss. Simply, we had something in common: our mourning of two people we adored.

As the pandemic continued keeping family and friends apart, our tentative plans to sit outside at the picnic tables by the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island continued to be postponed. Our plan for me to record his life story was not to be. It recently came to my attention that on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, this patriotic and proud veteran (so in love with his Becky) transitioned to Heaven, where he looked forward to being at her side forever. I am sad. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t get to hear their love story; about his outstanding service in the Marine Corps and more about his daughters and family that he loved so much. To all of you veterans who would like to tell me your story, I’d like to hear it. I invite you to call/text my cell at 252-202-2058 or email me at Also, I invite you to search for many previous Gig Line columns.

If you would like to inquire about getting your own free Dare County Veteran Discount Card, please let me know. Either contact me for more information or Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer (V.S.O.) on her office line at 252-475-5604 or her work cell at 252-473-7749 to request a duplicate DD-214 or for help in filing a V.A. claim.

Until next time, thank you servicemembers for all that you do; be healthy, safe and happy and just know how much you are loved and appreciated – always and forever. Stay tuned!