Turning 100 - Washington DC VA Medical Center
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Turning 100

Graphic illustration of a flag background with historical photos of WWII Veteran.

Graphic illustration of a flag background with historical photos of WWII Veteran.

By Sarah H. Cox, Public Affairs Specialist
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Happy 100th Birthday to WWII Veteran Albert DeLucien

Like many young men on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, college student Al DeLucien and his buddy went to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.  The recruitment office was so crowded with people eager to enlist, they were turned away and told to return the next week on December 15.

Fast forward 79 years; on February 15, Marine Veteran Albert G. DeLucien, turns 100 years old.  He will celebrate with a party at his church surrounded by family and friends. DeLucien receives his health care from the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His VA physician, Dr. Peter Curran, and other team members visit DeLucien regularly in his home in Virginia as part of the medical center’s Home-Based Primary Care Program which provides health care services to homebound Veterans with complex health needs.
                                 
“As an Air Force Veteran myself, I see Mr. DeLucien as an inspiration and I know that his time in the service has really defined the rest of his life,” said Dr. Curran. “We all want to be remembered for something and I’m glad the VA helps nurture that legacy for Veterans.” 

Albert DeLucien is still doing what matters, continually building his legacy. From the time he was in basic training in Parris Island, South Carolina, he has been an avid letter writer.  He kept his family apprised of all his travels while he was in the service.

During the war, he served in the Pacific and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division; 5th Regiment; M Company; 3rd Battalion, where he remained throughout war. He served as an assistant machine gunner which meant he carried the machine gun while the gunner carried the tripod. 

“The down-side of carrying the Machine Gun is that it wasn’t just the heaviest thing to carry, but you were instantly the number one target.  The good news is that they were lousy shots,” he recalled. 

His unit, the 1st Marine Division, distinguished itself in combat. He and his unit were in the first waves of Soldiers to hit the beaches at both Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and Peleliu in Palau. His unit was awarded a Presidential Citation issued for their efforts. “The courage and determination displayed in these operations were of an inspiring order,” wrote the Secretary of the Navy at the time, William Franklin Knox.

He describes his unit as a big family. The men became like brothers, so much so, that if they were wounded, they were reluctant to go to the aid station for fear of being reassigned to another unit.

“We had a medic who was really good at patching us up, so we could stay with our buddies,” DeLucien recalls.  Of course, that meant no purple hearts for the wounded, but keeping the “family” together was more important to them than any medal.

After he returned home, he was assigned to Camp Perry in Williamsburg, Virginia and served as a drill instructor for the Marines in the stockade.  He met his future wife Alice while on furlough and they were married in a church there.  He was discharged from active duty in order to resume his education.

In 1950, he was recalled in support of the Korean conflict and once again became a Drill Instructor.  He was sent to Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. and became part of the newly-formed Silent Drill Patrol. To this day, the renowned 24-man rifle platoon still performs unique precision drill exhibitions at Sunset Parades in D.C.

DeLucien recalled his time with the Silent Drill Patrol. “Alice and my son Buddy would sometimes come to watch the Sunset Parade. I was very proud of this, but also I was pleased that it kept me from getting dirty, or killed, in Korea. I had a wife and young son to worry about at that point, which I didn’t have when I went to war the first time.”

He and Alice were married for 50 years and had three children. She and he both had their pilot licenses and were active in Civil Air Patrol. They had great times flying together.  “She was the better pilot,” he recalls. He lost Alice in 1997.

DeLucien now resides in Virginia with his daughter Jan.  He credits his longevity with keeping active, traveling, taking care of himself and spending time with his family.  He keeps his mind sharp with puzzles and clipping newspaper articles that he shares with family members in hand-written and mailed letters.

Happy 100th birthday and thank you for your service!

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