Keep this Fallen Marine from the Hudson Valley in Your Heart

Newburgh rowing club paid tribute to one of their own on November second during their "Salute to Veterans" boat dedication ceremony. 

Wayne Booth and William Kaplan were both acknowledged during the event. First, Mr. Kaplan who opened the doors to his Regal Bag building for the team and has been a major supporter. Young rowers Michael LoBiondo and Paris Liston helped "christen" the boat with some champagne. Supervisor Booth christened the boat called 'Town of Newburgh'. 

Mr. William Kaplan with Paris (L) and Michael (R)

The family of Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega, including her husband Felix Vega, and daughter, Coach Natasha Vega, who rowed for Penn State during crew season 2012-2013 and is a sophomore there, was on hand to christen the boat named after Dr. Vega.  “Dr. Vega said she wanted the loan on the Boathouse paid off, and she has stayed on to help fundraise until finally, with the last Corsairs Cup, we were able to pay off our Boathouse loan, something very few boathouses in the nation can claim,” said Coach Kennedy.

Finally, the crew shell that was the most intricate recondition was dedicated to the Nora Cronin Presentation Academy.  “These girls represent a new generation of rowers,” said Coach Kennedy.  “Through our partnership with Nora Cronin, we hope to see these girls become rowers at places like Penn State someday, like Coach Vega, and then go on to become the Mrs. Lo’s and Dr. Vegas of the world.  This is the next generation of great rowers, right here.”

(L-R) Coach Vega, Wayne Booth, Dr. Winchester-Vega, Senator Larkin, Coach Kennedy, Sister Hernandez, Mayor Kennedy, and Feliz Vega

Over 150 attended the salute to veterans event. 

U.S. Marine Corp.’s Sergeant Sayid and Cpl. Leonard presented the colors, and raised the Flag on the USMC Cpl. Joseph Tremblay Memorial Flagpole. 

USMC Sgt. Sayid and Cpl. Leonard present the Colors at the Newburgh Rowing Club Boathouse

Cpl. Tremblay was a longtime rower for the NRC and NFA Crew, and he was killed in Iraq in 2005, at the age of 23. "One of the last things he did was come down to the Boathouse with his Marine buddies, and they built the south wall of our 6,000 square foot Boathouse."

** He died for his country on April 27, 2005, killed by an I.E.D. in Iraq, leaving behind a father who mourns him daily and a brother who is an Army medic, active duty.** 

 I first met Joey’s dad, Larry J. Tremblay about a year ago, when Coach Ed Kennedy, Programs Director for the Newburgh Rowing Club and Head Coach of the NFA Varsity Crew Team asked me, as Team Mom, to help him with a scholarship he had been trying to setup since he first learned of Joey’s death.  I reached out to Larry to talk about setting up two scholarships, one for Lt. Abby Mennerich, the first female from NFA to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and row all four years for Navy (she is deployed), and the Memorial Scholarship for Joey.  I apologized to Larry, telling him I’m sure so many people had set up scholarships or memorials for Joey.  No, said, Larry, this would be the first.

        Larry told me it was no surprise at all to him when Joey said he wanted to join the military.  “We called him 'G.I. Joey' when he was growing up,” said Tremblay.  “He always wanted to join the military, he wanted to be a Navy S.E.A.L. I had some fear for him, but I wanted my son to follow him dream.  Joey joined right out of high school, the delayed entry program. It was peacetime, 1999.  He was stationed in Hawaii when 9/11 happened. His unit was not chosen to go overseas and he actually got mad."

        Joey was honorably discharged after four years.  He enrolled in Orange County Community College, he connected with his childhood sweetheart, and was going to settle down, according to his Dad.

        That was not, however, meant to be for Joey.  “He wanted to be with his brothers, to be with the Marines. That bond, I can't explain it to people, it's so strong. I could see it in his eyes, he wanted to be over there," said Tremblay.

        Then came the day when Joey told his father he had re-enlisted in the Marines.  When asked what he said to his son, Tremblay said: "What took you so long? Like I said, I could see it in his eyes, he didn't want to be here, he wanted to be with his brother Marines. He missed the Marine Corp. Big time. He volunteered to go with a different group of guys to go to Iraq, I tried to tell him to wait a year and go with his own group but he said no. He said, my brothers are over there, I need to be with them."

        Joey was killed by during Operation Iraqui Freedom on April 27, 2005.  He was 23 years old.  I asked Larry, who has become a good friend to me and to my husband, how does it feel to be a Gold Star Parent? "No parent wants to be a Gold Star Parent,” said Tremblay.  “I remember like yesterday that perfect, beautiful spring day in April 2005, when I looked out the window and saw the two Marines in dress uniform walking up my drive. I said to them, please tell me I need to go to Germany because Joey got hurt really bad. But deep down I knew. It's like a dream. They were talking, but to this day I have no idea what they said. At that moment, you don't care if you live or die. But I care now, I have another son, Larry Jr. who is an Army Medic, and a grandchild. Larry's going to be deployed again, he's done 2 tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan already".

        I asked Larry if he would change anything if he could do it all over again.  He did not hesitate.   "No,” he said.  “Everyone has to live out their dream, athlete, artist, what have you. This was Joey's dream. I loved him enough to want him to follow his dream. I'm proud of him, I'm proud he was a Marine, and to anyone in the Marines now, I say thank you, Happy Birthday, Marine, and Semper Fi. God Bless you all."

This write-up aired in the Sentinel last year courtesy of crew team Mom Juliana LoBiondo. She was kind enough to share it with us (And the photos) in honor of Joey's 32nd birthday which would have been yesterday (Novemeber 13th).

Thank you to all of our men and service women who are serving or have served, and their families. 

Special thanks to Newburgh Rowing Club for helping to keep Joey's memory alive.