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The Marines are coming.

The Eugene Sara Detachment of the Marine Corps League is hosting the league's 13th annual state convention Friday and Saturday in Billings.

Events begin with a vintage rifle shoot at 9 a.m. today at the Yellowstone Rifle Club on Molt Road.

The Marines will gather Saturday at the Donald J. Ruhl Armed Services Center on Gabel Road. The public is invited to attend a memorial service that afternoon.

Eugene Sara Detachment Commandant Burt Gigoux said organizers are hoping up to 100 Marines will attend the convention. In addition to the other events, the Marines will take part in instructional sessions, including the protocols for color guards, folding and presenting flags, parades and ceremonies.

The Marines will take time during the convention to help honor an Army veteran. Sen. Conrad Burns will be at the convention and present Korean War veteran Roger Gustin with a Purple Heart earned from a battle injury in 1953. The medal presentation is at 3 p.m.


The public is invited to attend a Marine Corps League memorial service Saturday. The service begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Donald J. Ruhl Armed Services Center on Gabel Road.

The memorial service is being presented by members of the Marine Corps League, Montana Detachment, who are gathering for a state convention in Billings this weekend.

With troops still in Iraq, this year's convention has added meaning, Gigoux said. Marines from the region and around the country recently gathered in Powell, Wyo., to bury 1st Lt. Therrel S. Childers, one of the first American soldiers killed in Iraq.

"Remember, the Marine Corps is a brotherhood," Gigoux said. "And when there are Marines at war, all Marines are watching, and they're taking notes."

Gigoux said the Marines now in harm's way are doing a "terrific job."

All former Marines are invited to attend the convention, although they must be members of the Marine Corps League to attend the business meeting.

The Eugene Sara Detachment includes Marines who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, "and we've got some over there (Iraq) now, too," Gigoux said.

Commandant of the state Marine Corps League is Steve Joppa of Helena. New state officers will be elected at the convention.

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