Originally published Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 05:56a.m.
MGySgt Marion Douglass Branch, USMC (Ret.) Marion Douglass Branch passed away peacefully at the Veterans Administration Hospice on March 30, 2018, he was 99 years old. Born in Caney, Kansas to John and Laura Branch on December 13, 1918, Marion was part of a large family with seven brothers and two sisters.
During the great depression life was very hard on the family and when he became a teenager he lived and worked at a neighbor’s ranch for food and clothing. Marion joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) On July 7, 1936 at 17 years old, when they had lowered the enrollment age limit from 18 to 17. The CCC paid a monthly wage of $30 per month, he kept $5 to live on and $25 was sent home to support his family. He was assigned to Kingsdown, Kansas and also Paradise Valley, Nevada. He was discharged in September 1937 to finish High School and re-enrolled in the CCC in April 1938.During this time with the CCC he worked on various projects in Washington and in South Dakota building the lookout tower on Harney Peak in the Black Hills.
Also during his time with the CCC he found his lifelong love of cooking, first becoming Assistant Cook Leader and then in April 1939 promoted to First Cook Leader with $45 per month pay. After a little over five years with the CCC he discharged out to join the Marines. He joined the Marine Corps on August 16, 1941. In the Marines he attended Cooks and Bakers School and was promoted to Mess Sargent in October of 1941.
Then promoted to Technical Sargent in April 1942 and assigned to B Battery Corps Artillery. At that time the World War in the Pacific was in expanding and he was deployed to fight in the battle of Iwo Jima. He landed on the island on the second day of the battle when the artillery was sent in and was on the Island for two months. Later after the war he was promoted to Master Sargent and married Marian Ryan in December of 1950. In July of 1953 he was deployed to Nara, Japan in support of the Korean War. He was deployed to the Vietnam War fighting in three tours in Vietnam. The first was at Soctran in 1961, the next was at Chu Lai in 1966, and the last was at Danang in 1967. Also in 1967 he was promoted to Master Gunnery Sargent the highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps. Marion retired from the Marine Corps in 1971 with 30 years and 16 days of active service.
While he planned to enjoy his retirement hunting and fishing he ended up accepting a job with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in April 1972 as Food Supervisor at the Federal Correction Center in Lompoc, California. After attending a Management course he transferred to Correctional Centers in San Diego and New York where he retired again in April 1977 as Food Administrator. After retiring again he enjoyed spending time at the shooting range and competing in NRA National Silhouette Championships.
He was very proud of his AAA shooting classification he maintained until he was 93 years old.
Marion was preceded in death by his wife, Marian, age 55. He is survived by his brother Edward Branch of Plainsville, Kansas; daughter, Kandis Branch-Haertle of Sacramento, California; and son, Kevin Branch of Prescott, Arizona. A service with military honors will be held on April 21, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Administration Chapel in Prescott.
Information provided by survivors.