Upstate comes together to salute Marines

Supporters packed the sidewalks and roadsides from Easley to Seneca on Monday as the annual “Honoring Their Service” parade made its way to Keowee Key.

Supporters packed the sidewalks and roadsides from Easley to Seneca on Monday as the annual “Honoring Their Service” parade made its way to Keowee Key.

By Nicole Daughhetee

Courier Staff

UPSTATE — For the last few years, Keowee Key has hosted more than 140 members of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) from Camp Lejeune, N.C., and members of the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment from Greenville, as part of an annual “Honoring Their Service” event.

The 2013 program began with the arrival of the Marines on Monday, where a motorcycle escort awaited them at the J.B. “Red” Owens Complex in Easley. From there, hundreds of motorcyclists, with support from law enforcement organizations from the counties and towns along the way, escorted the heroes through the towns of Liberty, Norris, Central, Clemson and Seneca to their final destination inside Keowee Key, where they will enjoy a variety of activities throughout the week.

Along the route they traveled, the Marines received waves and salutes from local residents who lined the streets to show their respect and support as the Marines passed through.

Josh Garrison, an Easley resident, joined one of the groups along U.S. 123 in Easley to show his support. He has participated in the event since its inception.

“I’ve had several friends who have served. I went to church with Barrett Austin,” Garrison said, referring to the Pickens County soldier who lost his life overseas following an explosion earlier this year.

The “Honoring Their Service” event began at Keowee Key several years ago when a partnership of sorts was forged between Keowee Key residents and Roger C. Peace Hospital. From there, the event has grown to include other upstate municipalities like Seneca and Easley.

“95 percent of the residents at Keowee Key are retired military. We have a lot of time on our hands and we have the amenities to be able to offer these men and women,” Timothy Callahan, one of the event founders and organizers, said. “We kept it in our gated community the first year only because we wanted to make sure we could deliver what we promised.”

“Honoring Their Service” is more than a motorcade; it is a several-day event designed to help service men and women returning from combat by offering them much-needed rest and relaxation, and it is a way to show them that local communities of Americans really do care about and appreciate what they are doing.

“It is amazing the capacity for compassion I have seen here in the Upstate,” said Callahan.

The program, which began with a request to assist with a waterskiing event, has since evolved into a fantastic event which involves hundreds of volunteers from within and outside our community. The initial event was contained totally inside the gates of Keowee Key, but it now actively involves the towns of Easley (the staging area of the motorcade), Seneca (the Veterans’ Appreciation Event), Salem (with a meeting with the mayor and a home cooked breakfast put on by the town) and Clemson (for a tour of the Clemson University football facilities and Death Valley stadium on the day of their departure).

“During the day we provide activities such as water-skiing, jet-skiing, kayaking on both Lake Keowee and down the Little River, swimming, boating, fishing, archery, golf, tennis, hiking and if time permits, resting,” Callahan said.

The Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville partners with Keowee Key and provides therapists, equipment and other support to ensure the safety of guests as they indulge in these activities

“Honoring Their Service” is all about what we as a community can do for these men and women who make sacrifices to protect our communities through their military service, said Callahan.

“Many of these warriors have emotional wounds that can’t be seen from the outside, but they aren’t looking for sympathy,” said Callahan. “Shock and awe have become overused and trite, but these guys can’t believe that all of this is done just for them.”

Pam Kimmell and her 12-year-old niece, Karlie, were also along the motorcade route with American flags in hand.

“I believe that you should honor our Marines — our military,” she said. “They sacrifice so much for us.”

For more information, please visit, where you will find information about the event, as well as information on Communities for Marines, which is a charitable 501(c)3 organization that was set up to sponsor these events All contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to Communities for Marines, P.O. Box 607, Salem, SC 29676.

Contributions are used to cover costs like bus transportation, lunches, a formal dinner, a departure breakfast for the guests, and essential items needed to assure the event is a success.