By TIM KELLY
Ocean City’s summer tradition of conducting flag-raising ceremonies at the Water Park across from the Music Pier is always special.
Thursday morning’s event took on added significance as the city paid tribute to Marine Corps veteran Doie Barnes, on her 99th birthday.
“It was a very nice thing to do for a wonderful person,” said her friend and fellow World War II veteran Joe Caserta, 98. “She appreciated it a great deal.”
Barnes, of Ocean City, was one of the first women to join the Corps after the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established in 1942.
Video courtesy of Ian Crowley
Barnes refuses to discuss details of her duties and assignment, citing the classified nature of her work.
However, one of her veteran friends said she worked in the Marines Intelligence Agency at various military bases.
“All these many years after the war, and the way things played out, that secrecy could go by the wayside,” Caserta said. “But Doie is old school. She doesn’t want to talk about it and we respect that. Many veterans don’t want to discuss what they went through.”
At the ceremony, Barnes, who is still mentally and physically strong, gave several understated “thank you” comments, but mostly smiled and modestly accepted her moment. She appeared to be overwhelmed and humbled by the attention.
“Some balloons and a happy birthday sign were placed on her scooter,” said Caserta. “But she was very surprised (at the formal recognition). It was a really nice thing the city did for her.”
City official Michael Allegretto and City Council members Keith Hartzell and Mike DeVlieger presented Barnes with a key to the city.
Ocean City resident and noted baker, Jennifer Bowman, presented Barnes with a homemade chocolate cake featuring a large “99” decoration.
“I heard that she loves chocolate and even pours chocolate milk over her chocolate cereal,” Bowman said.
“There’s hope for us all if someone can look that great at 99 after eating all that chocolate,” Bowman added with a laugh.
Caserta, himself a highly decorated Army tank commander who landed in Normandy, France, in the D-Day invasion and went on to serve in Belgium and Germany until the conclusion of the war in Europe, had high praise for his friend.
“There probably aren’t many female members of the Corps from World War II who are still around,” he said. “She is very spry and active. She’ll go for a walk with her walker and cover a large distance.”
Ocean City American Legion Post 524 Adjutant Jack Hagan said Barnes was an asset to the post and a local treasure.
“I have all the respect in the world for her,” Hagan said. “It’s great she is able to be so active and that she was recognized. I’m extremely proud to call Doie my friend, and prouder still that she is a member of our post.”