Marines honor a fallen brother from Sparta

Jeffrey Patterson was killed in Vietnam in 1968

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  • US Marine PFC Jeffrey S. Patterson Photos provided

  • Sussex County PFC Jeffrey S. Patterson Marine Corps League Detachment #747 Color Guard

— Each year, the Marines of the Sussex County PFC Jeffrey S. Patterson Marine Corps League Detachment #747 gather at the First Presbyterian Church of Sparta to pay tribute to their namesake.

Patterson, born on June 17, 1949, attended the Sparta Public Schools where he was an above average student. He also excelled in football and wrestling. Upon graduating in 1967, he joined the Marine Corps, and was deployed to Viet Nam in 1968. He was assigned to "Bravo" Company, 1st Recon Battalion, 1st Marine Division. On June 3, while walking point on a roving patrol near Quang Nam, he tripped a Viet Cong booby trap and was mortally wounded. He was two weeks short of 19.

"PFC Patterson was a clean-cut American young man who loved his Country and his Corps," Sal Cenicacelaya, commandant of Detachment 747, said. "He was a perfect example of those dedicated Americans who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for the American way of life and his beloved Marine Corps."

On June 3, 1993, the Sussex County Detachment #747 of the Marine Corps League was re-chartered and re-named the PFC. Jeffrey S. Patterson Detachment. This was done at his graveside at the Sparta Presbyterian Church Cemetery. On this June 3, the detachment will again pay its annual tribute to Patterson's memory.

"As a Sparta resident and a proud Marine, I feel that I have a responsibility to ensure the community is aware and also never forgets the ultimate sacrifice Jeffery Patterson made," said detachment member Derrick J. Peter.

Commandant Cenicacelaya, of the Wantage-based Marine League group, penned a letter to his fellow Marines and the community in general, to honor Patterson's memory and to invite the public to join the detachment at rhe church for the commemoration. An excerpt:

"The Marine brothers of Jeffrey Patterson, are not inclined to permit his commitment to our American ideals to waft away into the depths of obscurity. And yes, while we identify with the heroism of Jeffrey, we are not oblivious to the contributions of all military Gold Star and Disabled Veterans who have served our Country. By memorializing Jeff, we feel that this recognition is really

attributed to all who have died or who have been disabled."

In conclusion, Cenicacelaya wrote: "Our Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis—translated to mean “Always Faithful.” If you join us on 3 June 2018, you too are living the message of our motto."

The First Presbyterian Church of Sparta is located at 32 Main Street, Sparta. The commemoration begins at 6 pm.

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