I think it is fitting that I share with you, my brother Marines, some insight into who this man was. Besides being the namesake of our Detachment, he was a young man that I want you to know, because to know Bruce and the kind of man he was will surely go a long way toward bringing us closer as we proceed together, learning each others strengths and weaknesses, and sharing common experiences and knowledge. I hope that these few words will convey an understanding of how this kid from Bedford, NY, grew to become a man, a Marine who gave all of himself for his brothers and Country, a husband to a young woman, Arlene, who loves him deeply to this moment, a father to a beautiful little girl, Dawn, who has herself grown to become a mature and good woman, and a life-long friend that will forever be remembered for his contagious laughter and positive attitude.
I met Bruce in September of 1960. My family had just moved from the North Bronx to Bedford Village, New York, and I was beginning a new school year in a new school: the Fox Lane School. I was an eighth grader. Bruce was a seventh grader. I was a city kid, and he was a country boy; two very different animals to be sure. Our homes were only a few hundred yards apart, so our initial rivalry, which was fierce at times, soon turned to curious tolerance, which soon turned to a friendship that would last through time. We grew up together, learning to fish, to hunt, to do all the things boys do. Together. We discovered the wonder of girls, and sometimes competed for their favors, but we always took care to protect that sacred relationship that somehow claims its place in the souls of boys as they become men, and stays with them.
In 1966 we joined the Marine Corps … together. There was a nasty war going on in an obscure place called Vietnam, and we agreed that even though many folks were arguing over this strange war in this strange place, we’d go do our part. And so we went … off to Paris Island … that legendary place where boys become men … no, Marines. Bruce, me, and Jackie Harris, who would later marry Bruce’s sister Linda when he returned to “the world”, a term then used for Stateside USA. Our time together was cut short at Paris Island, when Bruce suffered a broken leg during the first week of our training. Our senior drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Muldowney, took a brief pause from his demonic nature and gave us a few private minutes to say our goodbyes. Jackie and I continued, both eventually becoming field radio operators, while Bruce spent the next few months healing. He married Arlene after boot camp, ITR and some stateside training.
Eventually, Bruce made it to Vietnam, having shipped out a few days before the birth of his daughter, Dawn. A bout with malaria sent him to a hospital ship off the coast. I received a letter from him from that ship. I no longer have that letter, but I can remember clearly how he never seemed discouraged. He had a very contagious positive attitude. Once recovered, he was assigned to a grunt outfit: G Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, then operating in Quang Tri Province. On 19 SEP 68, Bruce was on point at the beginning of a fire fight. He was killed by a gunshot wound to the abdomen. A corpsman got to him quickly … there’s a special place in heaven for our Navy corpsmen …but Bruce only had time to ask a brother marine, Joe Drago, to tell Arlene and Dawn that he loved them and was sorry to be leaving them. He then came home.
He is buried on a sunny slope at the Bedford Union Cemetery in Bedford Village, a beautiful place, within sight of the hillside where we once rode our toboggans; screaming, laughing and knowing even then how much we loved what we had, each other.
My brother Marines, and all those present here this evening, now you’ve met PFC Bruce Stanley Larson, the Marine for whom our Detachment is named.
… with utmost love and respect,