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Operation Open Arms seeks public’s help to cover Marine’s passage home

By Staff | Sep 13, 2011

Operation Open Arms is hoping the community will step up to help a Marine home on leave in Cape Coral.

The Marine is due to visit family in the Cape, but he had to buy his own plane ticket home from Yerervan, Armenia. The corporal is a highly decorated guard who served in Afghanistan and was one of a very few to be selected to guard the American embassy.

Operation Open Arms founder Captain John “Giddyup” Bunch said the State Department will not pay for his ticket home, so the corporal had to charge the $1,687.40 round trip ticket.

Bunch said that the twist is that the State Department will pay for the ambassador and staff, but will not pay for Marines who guard the United States against terrorism to come home while on leave.

“Here’s this kid guarding our ambassadors and staff at the embassy and they can’t pay his way home,” Bunch said.

The Pine Island fishing guide is offering to sell his own personal Marine Corp. Officer sword to help raise money to help his fellow Marine.

The sword is in mint condition, he said.

“There’s one attack after another on these embassies; don’t we owe these guys?” Bunch said. “I’m hoping our community can help resolve this.”

Operation Open Arms is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping military personnel returning from, or on leave from, combat duty.

Its focus has been helping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, giving veterans opportunities to rest and relax and helping to provide money for weddings, among other endeavors.

Bunch said he doesn’t want to stray too far from that mission and calling an emergency meeting with the Board of Directors might not happen in time to help the Marine in question.

“I want to be clear, those coming back from combat are of the highest priority. But these kids are guarding our embassies and they are not cushy duties,” Bunch said.

Bunch is asking that anyone who is willing to help out, to make checks payable to Operation Open Arms at PO Box 101, St. James City, 33956. The checks should be specifically marked for Marine travel expenses.

Operation Open Arms asked The Breeze not to use the Marine’s name due to military regulations.

American service personnel are not to discussion travel or deployment information.