501(C)(3) ID# 27-4526336
The 2017 Memorial Day event was heart warming. In attendance were Gold Star families, wounded veterans and over 3,000 runners who ran in respect for Memorial Day and to honor our Darkhorse Battalion. Many were amazed to see Former Grand Marshall, Carlos Garcia, run the 5K on two prosthetic legs. Ashley Furniture once again provided a generous gift of bedroom and living room furniture for our Grand Marshall, Navy Corpsman Stuart Fuke.
The Surf and Sand Resort once again provided complimentary ocean front suites and a luncheon for our wounded veterans and families.
Corporal Marcus Chischilly, a USMC infantry veteran with eight years of service, four combat tours, and multiple medals, including a Purple Heart, was the perfect Grand Marshall for the Memorial Day event. A gifted athlete, Marcus ran the 10K after motivating the runners by encouraging them to "Get Some." Marcus’ final deployment to Afghanistan was with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He credits his participation in the Laguna Hills' event with helping him understand just how much support there is for veterans like him.
Marcus was born May 30th 1987 in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Deer Valley High School, joined the Marine Corps in September 2004 through the Delayed Entry Program, and reported to Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot MCRD San Diego on July 18, 2005.
Karim Narooz of Ashley Furniture presenting living room and bedroom furniture to the Grand Marshalls of 2013, 2014 and 2015.
All photos courtesy of DeeDee Gollwitzer
Amy McLimore and Emily Jensen of Surf & Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach presenting the 2015 Grand Marshall with a key to a suite.
Gus Shuber of Ashley Furniture presenting 2017 Grand Marshall, HM2 Stuart Fuke, a gift certificate for bedroom and living room furniture.
Karim Narooz of Ashley Furniture presents 2016 Grand Marshall, Cpl. Jorge Ortiz with living room and bedroom furniture.
Rebecca Donnelly, sister of Robert, poses with Camp Pendleton Marines, Heather Kelly and Karen Kelly
Karen Kelly, mother of Robert, loves TDH
The Memorial Booth honoring the 25 Fallen
Marines at the static display.
Heather Kelly runs for her husband, Robert
The beautiful Ceniceros Family, honoring Irwin
A Memorial Ceremony is held at the Laguna Hills Community Center following the races. Dignitaries attend to pay their respects to the military members who died in the service to our county and to honor our Grand Marshall and Gold Star family who are attending the ceremony.
The mayor presents a commemorative plaque from the City to the Grand Mashall. Ashley Furniture provides the Grand Marshall with living room and bedroom furniture. The Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach offers the Grand Marshall a complimentary ocean front suite for the evening of Memorial Day.
At the finish line the runners were cheered on by throngs of people who turned out to watch. The Marine Static Display is a major attraction for children who enjoy climbing on the military vehicles and having pictures taken with Marines.
The Team Darkhorse “Memorial Booth” displays banners of the 25 Marines who died in the deployment to Afghanistan. Adults and children pause to read biographies and light candles in honor of the 25. The Memorial Booth provides an appropriate setting to linger and contemplate the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Despite a very busy Memorial Day schedule, the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society provides a presence. The bagpipe performance always is well received and appreciated.
Connecting with Gold Star families, families whose loved ones were killed in action, has been a focus of Team Darkhorse. The banners of the 25 fallen in Afghanistan that are hung along the race route serve as a reminder that Laguna Hills will continue to remember their sacrifices.
The Ceniceros family attends every year to remember their loved one, LCpl Irwin Ceniceros.
In past years, family members of 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, LCpl. Joesph Pratti, 1st Lt. William Donnelley and LCpl. Victor Dew have attended the Memorial Day events.
Team Darkhorse always looks forward to seeing the Gold Star families. We feel honored when they choose to observe Memorial Day with us.
Every year it just keeps getting bigger and better. Last year, 4,000 people ran the Memorial Day races at the annual Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half-Marathon - hundreds more than the previous year. Runners participate in the half marathon, the 10k or the 5k races.
Every year, Team Darkhorse selects a wounded veteran to serve as a Grand Marshall and be honored at the Memorial Day event. Every year, dignitaries attend to pay tribute to our adopted Marine Battalion, the servicemen who were killed in action, Gold Star families in attendance and our Grand Marshall.
Every year, runners help Laguna Hills pay tribute to the Marines of 3/5. The banners of the 25 Fallen that are hung along the race course – reminds us why we commemorate the day.
On October 9th, 2010 during a firefight with Taliban, Marcus stepped on a pressure plated I.E.D., which resulted in the loss of his left leg above the knee, and severe shrapnel wounds to his arms and right thigh. Corporal Chischilly spent the next two years with Wounded Warrior West, in recovery and physical rehabilitation. He was then temporarily assigned to Miramar as a Flight Equipment Technician. Later this year, Marcus will be officially Medically Retired.
Marcus, his wife Antania and their three children; Sons Avary (5), Marrius (2) and a daughter Khalleyah(1) now reside in San Diego. Conversation with him quickly reveals his mental strength. His attitude of positivity and forward motion has led him to a number of athletic accomplishments. He plays on the Wolfpack Wheelchair Basketball Team, has completed Marathons in Hand Cycling, and enabled with his prosthetic leg recently completed the Detroit Half Marathon, his first. Marcus plans to run the Half in Laguna Hills.
3rd Battalion, 5th Marine, 1st Division - official USMC site: 1stmardiv.marines.mil/Units/5THMARINE
NPR piece on the Sangin Deployment: npr.org/2011/10/31/141724272/an-afghan-hell-on-earth-for-darkhorse-marines