"There's no such thing as an 'ex-Marine'", a veteran of the Marine Corps once corrected me, after I used the term in a column.
"There are only Marines and former Marines," he explained.
His point was that once a Marine, always a Marine. The bonding and discipline forged in the Marine Corps stays with an individual all of his life.
Larry G. Darrohn Jr., 46, was a former Marine.
After attending community college, he enlisted in the Corps and served his country with pride.
Larry Darrohn is also a hero.
Early last Friday, investigators speculate, he was awakened from his sleep only to find his Jim Thorpe house on fire. The flames were already enveloping the building. But instead of trying to flee the burning structure, realized that the woman who lived upstairs, 63-year-old Sharon Joseph, was still in her apartment.
Fighting through smoke and flames Darrohn made his way upstairs, only to be overcome by the smoke before he could reach Joseph. He died in the hallway. Joseph was also found dead in her bathroom. It was the second tragic fire to hit Jim Thorpe in three days.
Darrohn's obituary, which ran in Saturday's TIMES NEWS along side a photograph of him in his Marine uniform, began with the words, "Mr. Larrfy G. Darrohn, Jr., 46, of Jim Thorpe, died a hero, Friday, December 11, 2009, while attempting to rescue his neighbor from their duplex which caught on fire in Jim Thorpe."
His family wanted everyone to remember that this son, who was a father to a son and a daughter, was willing to the end to go above and beyond the call of duty. He truly died a hero.
Darrohn probably didn't perceive himself as a hero, even while he was running up those steps through the flames and smoke in an attempt to save his neighbor. It was his instincts, and his training, that kicked in, enabling him to ignore his own safety for the good of another.
The tragedy here is the area lost two superior people - Darrohn, who also volunteered with CareNet, which helps women with unplanned pregnancies, and Joseph, who served proudly on the Jim Thorpe School Board for 14 years, several of those years as president of the board.
Whenever Darrohn's name is mentioned in the future, people won't only remember him as a friend or an acquaintance. They'll remember him as a hero - a former Marine who performed his duties to the end, even though it cost him his life.