Happy Veterans Day from Ocean Casino Resort! This year, we asked our team members to share their veteran stories to highlight their story of service to our country. To the men and women in uniform, we honor and thank you for your service.

Colleen Carraccio. – Casino Compliance Specialist

“So, your child wants to go into the Military. He chooses the Coast Guard. Great, they stay within the US and still get the benefits of being in the service. Basic training is a little rough, you learn to change your attitude to “He belongs to the Government now” and you try not to worry – No news is Good News. You finally get to see him at graduation, and you can’t believe how he’s changed – become a man.

Out to sea he goes – you have no idea what to expect. You live the next few months on pins and needles waiting for the phone to ring, hoping it’s him. You answer every call because you don’t know where he is or how he is going to communicate with you. When he does call, you get little information. He can’t tell you where he’s going or where he’s been or what the mission is. You learn all kinds of acronyms and rules of deployment. While all this is happening, you find yourself happy to hear the National Anthem. You find yourself buying flags and wearing Red, White and Blue. While you’ve always been proud to be American, it’s different now.

Then you get the call, he tells you he is going overseas. What, wait you’re in the Coast Guard they stay here in the US. That’s when you find out they don’t just stay within the US. The Coast Guard is all over the world. So much of what they do is behind the scenes and off the radar. They protect us in ways most people have no idea about. Last year they kept over $6 billion dollars’ worth of drugs out of our country. They help wherever and whenever needed. You look up places in the Middle East to see exactly where they are. You watch the news differently. You pray and pray and pray that he will come back at the end of his tour safe to the US. You make it through deployment and finally get to pick him up at the airport. You beam with pride and embarrass him with balloons and signs and all your love right out there for everyone to see.

You have a new appreciation for those who choose to serve. You realize that it’s not just the person serving but everyone who loves them in some way is also making a sacrifice. You appreciate so much more how great this nation is and the sacrifices it took to become great. You find comfort and solace in other military families. You offer help to strangers because their child is serving too. You learn what it’s like to be a part of a different family and though your stories are all a little different, they are also all the same. You think if everyone knew what sacrifices are made, they would appreciate and cherish the freedoms they have. You keep praying and keep being proud and keep one eye on the news.”

Tim Phelan. – Concierge

Sergeant Timothy A Phelan (E -5)
U. S. Marine Corps 1992 2004. (Active Duty and Reserves)
MOS 0311 Infantryman, 0312 Reconnaissance Leader, Radio Operator
Active Duty Unit: Kilo company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division
Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay Hawaii
Reserve Units: 4th Light Armoured Reconnaissance, 4th Engineer Battalion Quantico, Virginia

“I attended basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina and graduated after 13 weeks of classroom training, physical conditioning, close order drill, marksmanship training and nonstop inspections. Marksmanship is highly emphasized at boot camp. All Marines are required to qualify on the Rifle Range. A full 2 weeks are spent on practice shooting with the final day being Qualification Day. After boot camp, I reported to Camp Lequene, North Carolina to attend the School Of Infantry. This is advanced weapons training, military tactics and introduction to helicopter operations. Marines use this to transport equipment and troops throughout the world often operating from U.S. Navy vessels that are especially equipped to transport large helicopters and combat Marines.

After SOI I was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment at Marine Corp Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay which is on the windward side of Oahu. All my active duty was spent with Kilo company 3/3 and we spent nearly 2 years overseas deployed to the Far East in Okinawa, South Korea. We were also to assist with ongoing operations in Africa or friendly nations in the Indo-Pacific area of operations.

I participated in 2 humanitarian operations to assist the local population that was devastated by Civil war. We also conducted a separate evacuation of American citizens threatened by ongoing hostilities and chaos. The evacuation was done via large helicopters (CH-53) which flew in from U.S Navy ships stationed off the coast. My unit was especially trained and equipped for these operations in crisis situations and it was completed with no loss of life. I was a Platoon leader and responsible for disarming local hostiles and providing security for the helicopter landing areas. I had 40 Marines assigned to me to complete this mission.

I also served in 2 Reserve units as Section leader and was up for promotion in Virginia. I left the Reserves after completing my reserve contract. I graduated from Lynchburg College in Virginia in 2000 while serving in the Marine Reserves.”

Awards received – Active Duty and Reserves:

Expeditionary medal – Naval Achievement medal – Humanitarian medal – Overseas Deployment Ribbon (4 awards) – Sea Service Ribbon – Selected Marine Corps Reserves medal – National Defense Service medal – Rifle Expert (3 awards).

Edward Parkes – Surveillance Supervisor

“My story goes back to the summer of 1969 and I just turned 12 years old. I ran outside to get the mail and I noticed another letter for my Dad in the mailbox. It was mailed from the Veterans Administration. As I handed off the mail to my Mother, I questioned her about the letters and she replied, “When your father comes home from work you can ask him after dinner.” I approached my Dad after dinner and asked him why he was receiving mail from the VA? My Dad replied, “When I was in the Army, I was seriously wounded on the battle field.” I asked my Dad where were you wounded? My Dad stood up and pointed to the scar on his left side of his face and down his neck and left forearm. Dad pulled up his shirt and pointed to his lower back. There was a large scar about four inches in diameter and a quarter inch deep. Dad further went on to say he thought the surgeons in Hawaii did a pretty good job fixing him up. He did not recall much of his recovery because he was also suffering from Malaria. After that, he never spoke much about the Army and the Korean War. My Dad was awarded the Order of the Purple Heart for the wounds he received during his time overseas.

Despite my Father being declared disabled from the military, my Dad lived a productive life. He worked at RCA Camden NJ as an electronics Tester (Apollo Space Missions electronic equipment). Later, he was an electrician at Owens Corning for 12 years and 17 years for Bally’s Hotel and Casino Atlantic City N.J. He retired in February of 1997 and passed away on Memorial Day, 2006. My father was the Post Commander of the VFW Post 6253, in Berlin, New Jersey.”

Private Frist Class Edward B. Parkes, Ret. US Army
1st Cav. Division, Heavy Infantry,
Republic of Korean

Mark Ludwick – Vice President of Risk Management

“There is no pride quite like the pride a parent feels for their child’s accomplishments. My son, Second Lieutenant Thomas Ludwick, U.S. Army currently serves our great nation in two capacities. One, as an officer is in the Army Reserves, currently on active duty training at FT. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Two, as a department of defense contractor recently completing a year-long deployment in the Middle East.

In his role as a defense contractor, he was heavily involved in the war on ISIS. Thomas was in an area where live fire and missals flying overhead where commonplace. His schedule included 12 hours shifts, seven days a week flying and repairing military reconnaissance drones.

The knowledge his team supplied led to the capture and extinction of numerous ISIS leaders, helping to make the world a safer place. His brave team took the war on terror to the terrorists instead of allowing the battle to be brought to U.S. soil. He has missed birthdays, holidays and family vacations.

Our family is very proud of Thomas for how much he has given of himself in defense of our freedom and for protecting the quality of life we all enjoy.”