For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -
Lou Calleja of Tequesta was named commandant of the Department of Florida Marine Corps League at their annual convention in Orlando in June.
Mr. Calleja's many years of public service began in 1961 as a junior in high school when he joined the U.S. Naval reserves and attended Navy boot camp at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In 1962, one month before Mr. Calleja was to graduate high school, he celebrated his 18th birthday by visiting his local U.S. Marine Corps recruiter. On June 26, 1962 he left home for Parris Island, S.C., where he completed basic training and was later assigned to the 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune. He separated from the Marine Corps during October 1966 as a sergeant.
In 1970, Mr. Calleja joined the New York City Fire Department and served in four of the city's five boroughs. In 1980, he was promoted to lieutenant, where he received multiple commendations, taught at the Fire Academy and worked at NYFD's division headquarters until retiring in 1995 and later moving to Florida in 1996.
Since 1997, Mr. Calleja has been a dedicated member of the Marine Corps League and from the time he joined he immersed himself in any way he could help other Marines and veterans.
He has volunteered at VA Medical Centers, giving weekly aid, food and comfort to countless veterans while volunteering more than 10,000 hours at the West Palm Beach VA Hospital and its community living facility.
He has managed multiple events to raise funds for wounded veterans, and has held many league offices including, until recently, as detachment commandant for the U.S. Marines and F.M.F. Corpsmen of the Lance Cpl. Justin J. Wilson Detachment No. 1045 of Martin County.
He was instrumental in having its name and charter changed from the Martin County Detachment to the Lance Cpl. Justin J. Wilson Detachment in November 2010 to honor the first Martin County Marine to be killed in Afghanistan.
Marine Corps League members from all over Florida deployed to the Wyndham Orlando Resort to attend the Marine Corps League's 2012 convention for the Department of Florida, which has 53 detachments state-wide, with more than 4,600 members.
During the course of their three-day convention, Marines and F.M.F. corpsmen attended meetings where they plan multiple fundraising efforts including those to assist wounded military personnel.
The evening banquet was held on June 16, where then-national Commandant Vic Voltaggio presided over the administration of the oath of office for Commandant Calleja, who was joined by his wife, Nancy, and their family.
Commandant Calleja marked the conclusion of the department's 2012 convention by giving special thanks to others,and invited all guests to visit the Department of Florida's website: www.mclfl.org.
Since the league was founded in 1923 by Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune and later chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1937, it has grown consistently, and is comprised of veterans and active duty personnel from conflicts preceding World War II to the present. The current commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, is also a proud member of the Marine Corps League.
Members of the Lance Cpl. Justin J. Wilson Detachment 1045 of Martin County meet on the first Tuesday of the month, at 7 p.m., at VFW Post 10132, 6101 S.E. Dixie Highway, Hobe Sound.
For more information, call (772) 919-8800.