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Fallbrook man restores Marine Detachment on USS Midway to former glory

Ray Harris, Volunteer Safety Officer

Special to the Village News

The Marine Detachment, or MARDET in Navy speak, was in shambles when he found it. The walls were covered in a gel-like preservative and nothing at all like the spit and polish that he left when he was a young Marine sergeant assigned to the Marine Detachment on board the USS Midway.

Fallbrook resident Stanley Foraker, a volunteer since January 2015 with the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum Ship Restoration Department, discovered that his old work area had fallen into disarray, and it became his personal mission to restore the MARDET to its former glory.

It took some convincing to get the necessary permission from Chief Engineer Charles Gordon, due to the danger of working alone in an area that is off-tour. With Gordon’s blessing, Foraker began working, cleaning, mopping, painting and fixing two and a half years ago. Foraker calls it “grunt” labor. We call it a labor of love.

Some of the best areas restored are the armory, the Combat Ready Room, also known as The Lounge, the Sergeant of the Guard office and lots of paint on the walls and replaced tiles on the floor. Before any of this work could be done, it was subject to a thorough Marine Corps field day, otherwise known as a cleaning.

Using memory and photographs that he and other Marines took years ago, Foraker has worked tirelessly, restoring the MARDET space as closely as possible to what it looked like when he worked there. Foraker was on the USS Midway from September 1987 to September 1989.

There is no budget to restore the MARDET, so Foraker has resorted to the time-honored military tradition of “appropriation,” and sometimes to begging, borrowing and asking for donations. To restore the guidon flag used by the unit, he established a GoFundMe account that raised the necessary funds and a little extra that went to other projects, like having a shoulder band made for the Sergeant of the Guard. Old Marine Corps uniforms have magically appeared in the MARDET, and they are carefully guarded, pending the day they can be displayed.

The transformation of the MARDET is remarkable, especially considering that it is not on tour and that there are no foreseeable plans to put it on tour. It does, however, get a lot of exposure to certain groups, a couple of notable ones being a reunion of the Marines who used to occupy this space and the group of future Marines known as Devil Pups.

Showing the area off to groups like these is when Foraker’s chest justifiably puffs up a bit. His efforts are appreciated, as demonstrated by the comments on his Facebook page, search for “Marine Detachment USS Midway.”

While the MARDET space is not on the Midway tour, it is one of the most visited “behind the scenes” areas of the ship. It is also part of the “Behind the Scenes” tour for youth groups that do overnights on board the USS Midway.


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