NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - You’ve probably heard the saying once a marine, always a marine. And while that is true, many of the service members don’t always keep in touch after they return to civilian life.
Joey Aguzin of Metairie is trying to change that, one Marine at a time.
He knows the U.S. Marine Corps is a brotherhood and sisterhood like no other, which starts with 13 intense weeks of boot camp.
The recruits are then shipped off to different places all over the world.
Aguzin says, “But you remember many of them because the experience is just so intense. I’ve just been thinking whatever happened to this guy or that guy and I wonder how I could get in touch with them.”
Aguzin, who joined the Marine Corps in 1969, didn’t just think about it. He decided to do something to help re-connect Marines to members of their original platoon.
He started with a Facebook group, called Marines, Find Your Platoon.
“It’s a gathering place for other Marines who’ve experienced the same journey we have where we can let our hair down and talk about the things that are good for us, bad for us, hurt us, helped us helped to mold us”
In two and a half years, he’s added more than 52,000 Marines to the page and created a database where they can search for long lost friends, some who they would have given their life for.
"We have two guys in their 80′s who joined our group and because of the database, they connected, Aguzin says. “They’ve been talking on the phone, learning what they’ve been doing with their lives.”
82-year-old Bernie Lyons is one of those guys. He served in platoon 137 at Paris Island, South Carolina back in 1956.
64 years later, he’s living in West Virginia, but reconnected with fellow platoon member Larry Zagray, who now lives in Miami.
Zagray says, “For me personally, it brought back a lot of precious memories.”
“You spend 13 very intense weeks with these guys and you all become very close because you have to,” says Lyons. "And you always wonder what happened to so and so, so it was great to reconnect. “We rehashed what we’ve been doing, told stories, it was super. Hope to meet a few more, hopefully we can.”
“I think what Joey is doing is incredible.” Zagray says. “A lot of Marines, the older you get, the more troubles you’ve been through in life. Sometimes you need a friend, someone you can count on, someone to tell stories you wouldn’t tell someone else, basically because you know they’d understand.”
Aguzin says he gets great joy seeing and hearing about the thousands of other reunions that have happened so far. None involving his platoon yet.
“Of course I wish I knew where some of my platoon members are,” says Aguzin. “There’s not one in our Facebook group, not one. Yes, can you believe that?”
Still this FOX 8 great neighbor’s mission continues. He hopes to give many more marines the opportunity to reconnect with the men and women they shared some of the most important times of their life with.
Aguzin says, “I want every living Marine to enter their information into our database, then join our Facebook group and come share our love and respect for the U.S. Marine Corps.”
To join the Facebook group or database, just search online for Marines, Find Your Platoon.
All members are fully vetted.
Navy corpsmen who served with the marines are also allowed to join.
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