Service’s Rebecca Chuck Named an Honorary U.S. Marine for Commitment to Veterans

Article by Brent Lawrence / Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Columbia Pacific Northwest Region.

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Rebecca Chuck had an extremely important mission in June 2019.

She was the Honor Flight guardian for retired Marine Sgt. First Class Edgar Fox during the 77th anniversary of Battle of Midway Commemoration on June 4, 2019, at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial.

As the representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rebecca accompanied Sgt. Fox and his daughter from Hawaii for his return to Midway Atoll, some 1,300 miles west of Honolulu in the Pacific Ocean.

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Sgt. Edgar Fox was so impressed by the work and professionalism of Rebecca Chuck during two trips to the Battle of Midway Commemoration that he made it his mission to get a special award for her.

Sgt. Fox’s first trip to Midway was in 1941. During the Battle of Midway on June 4-6, 1942, he found himself in a pillbox on the south shore of Midway Atoll, desperately fighting to prevent the Japanese from occupying or destroying its naval and air force base. Sgt. Fox and other brave Sailors, Airmen, and Marines laid their lives on the line against repeated attacks. In the end, the U.S. forces triumphed against seemingly impossible odds and it was a turning point of World War II in the Pacific.

Returning to Midway for the 75th anniversary in 2017 and again for the 77th anniversary in 2019 were exceptionally meaningful to Sgt. Fox, as he was able to visit the exact locations where he fought and where so many of his friends and comrades died protecting freedom. Rebecca was there with him on both visits, and they forged a lasting friendship.

He was the only Marine survivor able to attend the 77th Commemoration in person.

“I don’t know how to express how I felt as Mrs. Chuck stepped up to the podium and read a poem for the Commemoration,” Sgt. Fox said. “At each pause, Mrs. Chuck glanced in my direction. When she finished and walked from the podium, she approached me and asked if she could give me a hug. I am unable to express the respect Mrs. Chuck offered to me that moment.”

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Rebecca Chuck reads the poem “I Am a World War II Veteran” by an unknown author during the 77th anniversary of Battle of Midway Commemoration.

Once he was back home in Springfield, Mo., Sgt. Fox had a new mission: find a way to honor Rebecca. The sergeant attacked his mission with the bulldog-like tenacity of a Marine before it all came to fruition on Nov. 10, 2020, which was the 245th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

On that day Rebecca became an Honorary Marine by the U.S. Marine Corps. The title of “Honorary Marine” is one of the highest compliments the U.S. Marine Corps can give to a civilian, and has been bestowed on fewer than 100 people since its inception in 2003.

“Oh my goodness,” said a surprised Rebecca, choking back tears during the award ceremony. “It has been my honor ever since I was chosen to escort you on the 75th. It has been my privilege to get to know you, and get to know about your whole life and service. To adopt you into my family, not just the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service family, but my family. To have you hold me in such esteem is just such an honor. Thank you. … What an honor.”

“Semper Fidelis, young lady. Welcome aboard, Marine,” Sgt. Fox added, his voice cracking with emotion.

Rebecca, who is the Deputy Project Leader at Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was awarded a plaque and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor (the Marine Corps Emblem) pin during a video presentation. The pin is traditionally presented to Marines upon completion of the Marine Corps Basic Training. It exemplifies the code of the U.S. Marine Corps — Semper Fidelis, which means “always faithful.”

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Rebecca Chuck and Sgt. Fox at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial during the 77th anniversary of Battle of Midway Commemoration in 2019.

“Always faithful is the Marine Corps motto and that is descriptive of Rebecca in her attention to her job, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission, to her community and her family, and in her remarkable connection with Sgt. Fox,” said Robyn Thorson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Director for the Columbia Pacific Northwest and Pacific Islands. “Sgt. Fox, it is an honor to be in your presence and we struggle to find sufficient words for our profound thanks for your service. You have bestowed on Rebecca a recognition befitting her excellence and reflecting yours. Thank you Sgt. Fox, and congratulations Rebecca.”

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Robyn Thorson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Director for the Columbia Pacific Northwest and Pacific Islands, joined Sgt. Fox during the 77th anniversary Battle of Midway Commemoration at Midway Battle of Midway National Memorial and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

Sgt. Fox also served with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima in 1945 and retired from the military in 1966. The Honorary Marine presentation was the culmination of Sgt. Fox’s mission to acknowledge Rebecca.

“This is a rare award for someone whom this Marine Corps veteran has the greatest respect,” he said.

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U.S. Marine Sgt. First Class Edgar Fox

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is honored to be the stewards of the Battle of Midway National Memorial and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The FWS, volunteers, and partners work together to conserve and protect this amazing historical and natural resource. To experience Midway Atoll for yourself visit https://arcg.is/1SvrPa.

As both a national wildlife refuge, a battle memorial, and part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the largest protected area on the planet.

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Conservation stories from one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions.

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