Semper Fi! Marines claim U.S. 17

Published 4:26 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Contributing Editor

Washington will be part of a joint ceremony Saturday to designate the section of U.S. Highway 17 from Edenton to Holly Ridge as Marine Corps Highway.
The local ceremony to dedicate signage regarding the new designation of the highway will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park on East Third Street in Washington.
Phil Mobley, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, will welcome people to the ceremony. Mayor Archie Jennings is expected to introduce state Rep. Arthur Williams, who is expected to make a short address. Kevin Doyle is scheduled to make a presentation.
“I would love to be there,” said Stan Friedman, a Washington resident and former Marine.
Friedman will be out of town Saturday to attend a graduation ceremony.
Friedman supports designating the entire length of U.S. 17, from northern Virginia to southern Florida, as Marine Corps Highway.
Friedman said he and countless other Marines have left Camp Lejeune or MCAS Cherry Point and driven northward on U.S. 17 on their way to their homes in the Tidewater area of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the nation’s Northeast, then make the return trip.
Bill Sprenkle, a Washington resident and former Marine, said he’s glad to see the Marine Corps honored this way.
“I think I probably will,” he said when asked if he will attend the ceremony Saturday.
“I think it’s pretty good. I would never want to take away from the other services. … I’m glad to see they are calling it the Marine Corps Highway instead of recognizing an individual,” Sprenkle said.
Similar ceremonies will occur in Edenton, Williamston, New Bern and Pollocksville. The ceremony in Williamston will occur at the N.C. TeleCenter.
A second ceremony and a barbecue with entertainment will take place in Jacksonville at 3 p.m. Saturday. The ceremonies are open to the public.
State House Bill 1021 designates a portion of U.S. 17 and a segment of U.S. Highway 70 as The Marine Corps Highway: Home of the Carolina-Based Marines Since 1941. The segment of U.S. 70 from its intersection with N.C. Highway 100 near Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station and its intersection with U.S. 17 in New Bern also will be known as Marine Corps Highway.
The Marine Corps has a significant presence in eastern North Carolina with its air station at Cherry Point in Craven County and Camp Lejeune in Onslow County. Edenton was once home to a Marine Corps base and air station, with the hospital at the base eventually becoming Chowan Hospital.