Once a Marine, always a Marine, even if you don’t have your dress blues to proudly wear. This is the case for City Councilor James Lanciani Jr., who mustered out of the in 1954, but never received his dress uniform from the Corps.
Lanciani served our country during the Korean War. When his tour was complete, the Marines said they would send him his uniform, but that never happened.
“Let’s just say they had other things going on, and they never sent the uniform even though they said they would,” the soft-spoken gentleman said.
All that changed earlier this month, when Lanciani was asked to go to the Leominster fire station on Church Street, and was taken totally by surprise when he was presented a case with a complete dress blue Marine uniform, medals and all.
“I was shocked,” Lanciani said.
In his tenure with the city, Lanciani has always been a big supporter of those that serve on the Fire and Police Departments, and the Fire Department stepped up big to give Lanciani what he has waited for all these years.
Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Davis spearheaded the organizational end of getting that much-anticipated dress blue for his longtime friend.
“There was an article last July in the Worcester Telegram about Jimmy never have gotten his uniform,” Davis said. “One shift, a few of us were outside on the bench when it came up in conversation, so that seemed the time to get the ball rolling.”
Davis does not take credit for the project, noting he was “the facilitator in getting it going. Many of his fellow veterans that are on the Fire Department did get this all going.”
He said he contacted the Lanciani family to get information on what size uniform to get, and also to see if he could get the information on what medals would be on Lanciani’s uniform.
“I didn’t realize the stripes and other things were not on the uniform when we ordered it. We got it to a local seamstress who sewed the stripes on the pants and a few other things,” he said.
Many firefighters chipped in to pay for the uniform and medals, and all did it with respect for Lanciani.
“We took a lot of pride in doing this for him, and it was interesting to see how everything went on,” Davis said. “Jim is special to everyone. He is such an approachable guy. He is always there to help out, whether he knows you or not. It’s just the kind of guy he is.”
For the presentation, another firefighter made a shadow box to give Lanciani with the uniform inside.
“It came out beautifully,” Davis added.
Lanciani said it is always about respect for all the men and women who serve in the military, all those that serve on the Fire and Police Departments, and respect for everyone everywhere.
“I respect them all so much for what they do for us,” he said. “In my time serving the city, we may not always agree, but it does not change that we respect each other.”
The Montachusett Chorale was at the presentation ceremony and, according to Davis, “when they played the song, you could see the pride in Jimmy’s eyes. He is always ready to snap to attention and salute.”
Now, the firefighters are anxious to see Lanciani sporting his new dress blues at an event in town.
“I can’t wait to see him in it,” Davis said. “He is such a proud Marine, and his fellow veterans that are on the department are proud of him too.”