Local News

'Situation Well in Hand' as USMC Vets Land at Bulls Park

Posted August 23, 2007
Updated August 24, 2007

— It was a special night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for more than 400 5th Marine Division members who were honored for serving during World War II.

George Cattelona was one of the veterans who stormed the island of Iwo Jima and survived. On Thursday, the Triangle retiree got the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Durham Bulls’ game.

“It’s probably the first ball I’ve thrown in 45 years or more,” he said.

More than six decades ago, members of the Fifth Marines made history by putting up an American flag on top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

“We knew what we were there for,” said veteran Bill Henderson. “We were there to do our duty, and we did it.”

Menard Prouilette, also known as Bull, remembered the day he and his fellow Marines landed.

“Well, it’s pretty rough when you’re sitting up there and look around and see your friends getting killed and mangled and torn up, you know,” he said. “It’s pretty hard, but you have to continue. You have a job to do, and it has to be done.”

The men of the Fifth Marines were the guests of honor at the Bulls’ game. When they weren’t watching the game, they spent time trading war stories and catching up on old times.

This reunion was the first time "Bull" was seeing his fellow Marine, William Russell, since 1945. Russell still remembered trying to keep "Bull" in line.

“I was the one that got in trouble, but Bull should have been in trouble with me,” Russell said.

Old friends, unforgettable moments and a generation who were still willing to share the stories about the history they lived.

“I think we all who walked off that island were pretty lucky,” Cattelona said.

The military de-activated the 5th Marine Division after World War II. It was re-activated during the Vietnam War, but the current active Marine force has four divisions.


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  • richard2 Aug 24, 2007

    They are the greatest generation this country has seen.

  • Sansa Aug 24, 2007

    Semper Fi to those gentlemen, they served for our Freedom. Too bad so many americans don't realize that we have our Freedom because of those who are willing to serve. As an "Air Force Brat" I was raised in the military, my father served 23 years as an NCO and he was in Vietnam..he never talks about it. My brother served as an officer in the army for 16 years (can you imagine those conversations NCO vs Officer :) ) Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who served or still serve. You have my utmost admiration and respect.

  • bmc Aug 24, 2007

    Darn it!!! I wish I had known about this before now. I would have loved to have been there to buy theses boys a round.

    Semper FI
    USMC Sergeant 94-01

  • JerryO Aug 24, 2007

    God bless these brave men. They were truly America's greatest generation.

  • Rocknhorse Aug 24, 2007

    Jake - I was too young to know from personal experience anything about Vietnam. I have studied it and am always appalled by how those fine men were treated. I make a concerted effort to say a genuine THANK YOU when I see soldiers. I try to teach my kids about the job our armed forces do and why WE are allowed so much b/c of them. My son sees soldiers as true heros and he wants to be one when he grows up!

    I hope that we have all learned over time that the public reaction of Vietnam was absolutely wrong and I hope it will never be repeated.

  • Jake Wildstar Aug 24, 2007

    Thinkaboutit, Very true, I was overwhelmed by the gratitude people showed us when we came home, I told my dad about it, and he was really happy, like somehow it made up for what he went through, I dont think any veteran expects to be treated like "royalty" when they come back, but it's nice to know that Americans care. Most of us are happy to serve, proud of it, and know how lucky we really are to be Americans.

  • Doctor Dataclerk Aug 24, 2007

    Jake Wildstar

    Maybe we have learned some lessons about expressing gratitude to all who have served. For many of these fine fellows, we learned it too late. I think 9-11 was a wakeup call to many of us that we will never forget. I make it a point to go over to all men and women in uniform in restaraunts etc. and thank them. I appreciate all that has been done for me and my children and try to teach my children the same appreciation. Thank you.

  • Rocknhorse Aug 24, 2007

    I am always humbled when I see these fine gentlemen, from ANY war. I thank my lucky stars that they are willing to fight so that I can appreciate the liberties that I have. I try to not take for granted the sacrifices made so that I can sit here and freely voice my opinions!

    Thanks to Durham Bulls for honoring and recognizing these brave men! THANKS to ALL our soldiers, past and present, who "have a job to do, and it has to be done.”"

    I wish there was more I could say, but I don't have words to express my gratitude to the fullest!

  • Jake Wildstar Aug 24, 2007

    The older vets had it a lot worse, my father and 6 uncles were all Marines in Viet Nam, they were called baby killers, spit on and treated like monsters when they came home, I got home from Iraq in 05 and got treated like a freakin movie star or something, it was embarassing. Im glad they show troops respect now, but it's sad it took so long for it to happen. I thank God for the guys that went before us.

  • Beach Music Forever Aug 24, 2007

    Tip of the hats to all these fine men. We have the right to get on these boards thanks to the efforts of true heroes like these Marines. We owe them a great deal. Thanks.