Part II: Great Pop-Pop Gets His Medal

The first portion of G. Johnson's article is included here: Part I: Great Pop-Pop Gets His Medal. Continuing with the story:
...One morning, during early-March, I got the courage up to visit LtGen Twomey's office. I asked if I might have a moment of the general's time. My request was granted. But to my chagrin, most of the staff's senior colonels were in the general's office when I entered. The general asked me what I wanted. I explained the story about my wife's grandfather and asked if the general might be so kind as to let us bring Great Pop-Pop into his office so that he could be presented with his medal by a real live Marine Corps general.

"No, Major!" the general replied abruptly.

Snapping quickly to attention I replied: "Aye, aye sir. Thank you for your time." I was about to turn and exit the general's office when he cleared his voice and said "No Major, we'll have a parade!" Stunned, I looked at the colonels in the office and could see them looking at each other with raised eyebrows.

"Oh no," I thought to myself, "what can of worms have I opened here?"

"Sir," I stammered with some hesitation, "that REALLY isn't necessary. A simple office..."

Sternly, the general cut me off and replied: "Major, we'll have a parade. That is all. You are dismissed."

"Aye aye sir" I answered, and then departed. (Let it be said, let it be done!) The general and his staff went back to working on whatever it was they were doing when I originally entered his office.

So, on one fine, beautiful cool Spring Friday morning at Quantico Marine Corps Base (not far from the Chapel where my wife and I had our wedding ceremony), immediately following the posting of the colors, a special ceremony took place in front of the Commanding General's headquarters building. A compliment of two companies of Marines, staff, guests, curious onlookers, and the Quantico Marine Corps Band assembled by the flag pole to pay tribute.

A white haired, dapper, gentleman (in every sense of the word), Albert D. Reidinger, Private, U.S. Army, emerged from the crowd (when summoned) to be recognized by the United States Marine Corps for service and dedication to country -- albeit 68 years after the fact. A citation, written by the staff, was read and presented. General Twomey pinned on Great Pop-Pop's medal adding that this was a special honor for him to bestow, particularly since his own father was also a recipient of the victory medal for services set forth in "The Great War". Private Reidinger, to his family's delighted surprise, then popped the general a sharp salute which General Twomey, matter-of-factly, returned.

Following the presentation, General Twomey directed Private Reidinger to 'bout face before stepping into position next to him. A special serenade of World War I songs, performed by the band, followed. At the conclusion of "Over There" the band transitioned into a rendition of "Happy Birthday," in honor of Albert Dudley Reidinger's 90th birthday -- that same 30th day of March 1986. It was a great morning to be an American!

Now I really felt bad about the imposition being laid on the Headquarters staff and its Marines that day -- having to participate in the extended morning formation-standing activity. But I must have been the only one that felt that way! After the ceremony concluded, the Marines didn't leave. One by one, a significant number of them formed a line in order to file by and shake Private Reidinger's hand. And this wasn't orchestrated in advance! They did it because they wanted to.

Now you'd think it couldn't get any better than that -- but it did! Not only did the young Marines file by to shake his hands; several took the time to say wonderful things to Private Reidinger. I was suitably impressed. Where were we getting such Marines I asked myself? (Our recruiters were obviously doing one heck of a job!)

There were no dry eyes among the Reidinger clan that day. Nor, might I add, a certain Marine major named Johnson. Both twin sons of Albert Reidinger (one a World War II Marine Corps lieutenant; the other a World War II naval officer) witnessed the event with great pride, passion, and pleasure. Additionally, one brand new week-old great grandson, a little confused about the whole procession, also looked on. [I might add here that that great grandson is now an Army lieutenant currently attending Army Ranger School.]

Albert Reidinger would live close to another four years, dying peacefully, and with typical grace, at age 93...

Our family will forever remember, with great pride, the special event that took place on that great Spring day during March of 1986. The Marine Corps looks after its own, but it seems there is always plenty of room for them to look after others also. But that's really one of its missions if you think about it. Just one more essence of a Corps that serves this nation splendidly.

Being from a Marine family, I always hold a special place for inspiring military stories such as this one.