RICHLANDS, N.C. - --
The Marine Corps is a brotherhood renown for taking care of each other, helping each other back up each time they fall. Retired Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey was reminded of the dedication by Marines, as well as a thankful civilian community, on Aug. 30, during the flag raising ceremony held at his Richlands, N.C. home.
Mackey, who suffered two above the knee amputations from an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Afghanistan three years ago, has been ‘gravity checked,’ as he puts it, frequently, in his own home. The prosthetic legs he received require time and personal adjustment to master and are still difficult to maneuver through a typical household.
“The house has been fitted to where somebody wearing prosthetics like me can walk around without falling down or sinking in mud,” explained Mackey. “I can now do basic, everyday things and enjoy my own house and my own yard instead of being a prisoner in it.”
Two weeks prior to the flag pole dedication Mackey was notified that he had been selected to receive free renovations on his house from the Home Depot Foundation and the Semper Fi Fund. These renovations provided Mackey with the ability to move easily about his home and give him more freedom in his own house.
Major General John Toolan, the former commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, and Sgt. Maj. Bryan Zickefoose, the division sergeant major, were among the guests present for the dedication of the flagpole and the celebration of the new renovations made to the house. Although a small ceremony, many of the guests were friends, neighbors and those who have been influenced by Mackey.
The renovations are valued at approximately $15,000, and include access ramps, leveled grounds, a patio, pergola and fire-pit, improved fencing and the flagpole, along with several other renovations. Volunteers from both the Home Depot Foundation and the Semper Fi Fund gave their time for two weeks prior to the dedication to complete the renovations and spend time with Mackey.
“We were approached by the Semper Fi Fund and told Sgt. Maj. Mackey would be a prime candidate to do a project for,” said Brian Webber, a Home Depot store manager. “When we contacted the Mackeys’ they said they were only looking for two things, he wanted a flag pole and she (Mackey’s wife) wanted ramps because she said it was hard watching him go to the pool.”
A color guard posted and presented Mackey with the American and Marine Corps flags to be flown proudly from the new flag pole in his front yard. The mild breeze waved the flags gently once they were raised for the first time.
“It has been a great honor to get to know you all,” Mackey said while addressing the crowd during the ceremony. “I can’t say enough about the organizations that came out here and helped me out and are continuing to help other Marines. Until you’re actually here at the ground level, you really can’t appreciate the effects of what they do.”