The Marine Corps League's James L. Hammons Detachment No. 939 conducts many of Aiken's best-known patriotic events.


The organization is in charge of the Memorial Day parade downtown, as well as the Memorial Day service at the Aiken County Veterans Memorial Park.


The detachment also oversees the Veterans Day Service at Veterans Memorial Park.


“I think we are the most active veterans organization in Aiken County; we try to get out into the community,” said Richard Schreck, who is the Hammons Detachment's commandant.


Last year, during its Toys for Tots drive, the Hammons Detachment collected 11,050 playthings; and with the help of The Salvation Army of Aiken, those donations were distributed to 1,174 youngsters for Christmas.


“The average was 9.4 toys per child,” Schreck said.


In addition, the Hammons Detachment provides adaptive tricycles for children with special needs and gives $1,000 scholarships annually to JROTC cadets at Aiken, South Aiken, Silver Bluff and Wagener-Salley high schools.


“We do funeral details, and they're not only from members of our detachment,” Schreck said. “If we see the name of a Marine veteran who has passed away, we will try to contact the family or the funeral director to see if they want us to participate as honorary pallbearers or to perform a ritual service at the funeral parlor. ...”


Founded in the mid-1990s, the Hammons Detachment has more than 90 regular and associate members. Most are Marine Corps veterans or active Marines.


People with other military ties also are involved in the group, which meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Knights of Columbus facility on Spaulding Drive.


“There is no bar; we are there to take care of business,” Schreck said.


Each year, the Hammons Detachment and the Riverfront Marines Detachment No. 1132 of North Augusta are the co-sponsors of a Marine Corps birthday ball.


“It's a formal affair with a cake cutting and guest speakers; approximately 200 people are there,” Schreck said.


The Hammonds Detachment's other activities include monthly ROMEO lunches.


“ROMEO stands for Retired Old Marines Eating Out,” Schreck said. “On the third Thursday of every month, we go to a different restaurant, and we wear our red shirts so that everyone will recognize us as Marine Corps ‘Leaguers.'”


For more information about the Hammons Detachment, visit www.aikenmcl939.org.


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.