He lost a large number of Marine comrades during the Battle of Fallujah code-named Operation Al-Fajr in Iraq in 2004. During the American Legion William Clinton Story Post 342 annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Freeport Recreation Center on Nov. 12, Marine Michael Panza, who served in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines 2003-2008 in Iraq and Afghanistan, reflected of his time in the service.
The event included an invocation by Post 342 chaplain, Albert Klipfel, 92, who served in the Navy during World War II and Korea. The VFW Post 3110 and American Legion Post 342 presented the colors and Freeport High School Navy JROTC along with the VFW Post 3110 and American Legion Post 342 retired the colors. The event welcomed a number of Freeporters, elected officials and veterans from all wars. The program was dedicated to observing the Gulf War and the War on Terror.
The Gulf War began when Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, and comprised of a two-phase operation: Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
The War on Terror began after Sept. 11, 2001, and included Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
“Veterans is very moving,” Post 342 commander, David Cockerel said. “It’s about everyone who’s served and still serving. We have young men and women 19 to early 40s serving all over the world living in difficult circumstances executing the military mission of the United States.”
After the ceremony, Post 342 held a barbecue at its headquarters on South Ocean Avenue. A number of members and their families met up to reminisce of their time in the military and swap stories.
“We need to remember our comrades on a day like this,” Cockerel said. “It’s important to me that we have a comradery with veterans of all ages. All through the generations veterans share this bond — we [know what it means to] put our life on the lines for this country.”