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Navy invades Marcellus

On July 14 and 15, the Marcellus Fire House served as a training platform for eight members of the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve and two instructors who came to Marcellus for the basic course in small boat handling. As dual members of the Reserves and New York Naval Militia, the sailors and Marines volunteered to join the state's Mobile Emergency Boat Service, or MEBS.

This program was designed to pre-position 28- and 33-foot patrol boats around the state to help protect New York waters from future terrorist attacks and to train boat crews and coxswains to man them. Marcellus was chosen for this training as a central New York State location and also because it is the hometown of Commander David Tucker USNR (ret), who is a member of the Naval Militia and host of the training.

The Naval Militia is the Governor's Navy, as the National Guard is his Army and the Air Guard his Air Force. The Naval Militia was heavily involved in post 9/11 operations in New York City guarding bridges and other infrastructure, as well as in the Flight 800 recovery operations off Long Island.

These eight sailors and Marines now move on to a one-week Intermediate Course in Buffalo in August or Rochester in September for hands-on boat training on Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, respectively, and then an intensive one-week coxswain course to qualify to be a captain of a patrol boat.

The MEBS program augments the Coast Guard in patrolling inland waterways and vital infrastructure, such as ports and canals. Boat crews have been patrolling the Hudson River 24/7 since Sept. 11, and the missions continue to grow. All boats are new, made of aluminum, are very fast, and have state-of-the-art communications and radar. Currently, there are boats in Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and next year, perhaps, Oswego or Syracuse.

The presence of so many camouflage uniforms at noon on Saturday on Main Street turned many heads. The "Invaders" thought Marcellus was a great place, except for two sailors from the Bronx who observed big spotted black and white critters eating grass in the fields around the village.

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