At its May, 2011 Regular Business Meeting, San Diego Marine Corps League Detachment #835 got word that a San Diego Marine Corps veteran who wanted to join the Marine Corps League was in the San Diego VA Medical Center with end-stage bone cancer.
The Marine was Roger Porterfield.
Everybody who goes through MCRD San Diego knows the yellow footprints next to the receiving barracks. Some are aware that the forward, starboard set of footprints, now moved to a different location for public display, were made of brass and carried the signature of President John F. Kennedy. Those brass footprints are the work of Marine Porterfield.
In the fall of 1963, President Kennedy came to MCRD on an inspection tour. In a private moment, the President went to the receiving barracks and stood on the first set of yellow footprints, apparently contemplating what it might mean to be a newly reported Marine recruit. Corporal Porterfield, assigned to the receiving barracks at the time, observed the President, and decided to memorialize the occasion. In the weeks following President Kennedy’s MCRD visit, Corporal Porterfield obtained brass plates, had them cut to the size and shape of President Kennedy’s footprints, had President Kennedy’s signature engraved in them and, with permission, replaced the first set of yellow footprints with them. The brass footprints remained in place for years, and were later removed for public display near the MCRD Command Museum.
Marine Porterfield later participated in early Marine Corps operations in Vietnam, and was honorably discharged from the Corps in the late 1960s.
On 21 May 2011, the Saturday following the business meeting, San Diego Bulldog Detachment Commandant Roger Siebert and four other Bulldogs went to Marine Porterfield’s hospital room to induct him into the Marine Corps League. The Bulldogs stayed for about an hour, discussing things of interest to Marines, and enjoyed Marine Porterfield’s good cheer and dignity. The Bulldogs inducted him into the League and the Detachment, and departed, leaving new League member Porterfield with memorabilia from the visit.
Several weeks later, the Bulldogs received word that Marine Porterfield had succumbed to his illness.