IDAHO FALLS — George Marriott was asked to help at a veterans appreciation banquet, but he had no idea there was a surprise waiting for him there with his name on it.
Marriott is an 88-year-old Korean War veteran who’s been a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for 62 years. Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1004 Roy Gibson asked him to attend the banquet because he knew Marriott was going to be named the 2019 Veteran of the Year in November.
“Our commander called me and told me that he wanted me to help with the missing in action table (at the banquet),” Marriott said. “What we have is a table with an empty chair by it that depicts a soldier or serviceman that had been missing and they never found (him) or her.”
He was at the table listening to other award winners announced when his name was suddenly called.
“I was totally surprised,” Marriott said. “I didn’t have any idea.”
Throughout his life, he’s spent his days serving others and that is what Gibson appreciates about Marriott.
“He’s like Superman without the cape,” Gibson said.
Marriott was in the National Guard before serving in Korea as a squad leader. His squad helped the South Koreans put barbered wire around mountain tops. Most of his time, however, was spent working on widening roads and building bridges, but he was trained to fight. It didn’t matter what he was asked to do, he was happy to help where needed because he loves his country.
Nowadays, he can still be found lending a hand. He belongs to the Live Foundation Incorporated in Boise. He’s also been an American Legion member for 55 years and in the Rigby Lions Club for 40 years. He was president when his wife Joyce joined the club. The couple met at Roberts High School and were married Aug. 18, 1950, and had five kids. She passed away four-and-a-half years ago. But the influence she had on him over the years made him who he is today.
“She taught me to be a good citizen,” George said.
They moved to Rigby where George has called it home for almost 70 years. He was on the city council for 10 years but stopped when his wife got sick so he could spend more time with her.
“She was just a beautiful lady,” George said. “I was mighty lucky to have her.”
What Joyce taught her husband and what George learned through service, makes him grateful to live in a land of the free.
“You have to go someplace else to realize what a great country we have,” George said.