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Ray Potocki. (Contributed)

Potocki honored as ‘Marine of the Year’

By Sierra White

Ray Potocki is the State of Wisconsin’s Marine of the Year.

Marine Corps League Central Wisconsin Detachment #350 presented Potocki, of Plover, with the award on June 13.

Potocki has a long and storied career of service. In 1952, he joined the National Guard at the age of 17. Four years later he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1959 with the rank of sergeant.

“All I can say is it really means a lot,” Ray said of the award. “Not everyone gets the award, with all the detachments in the State of Wisconsin. I’m really proud to receive it.”

After separating from the Marines, Potocki later went on to work for the Stevens Point Police Department, where he served for 27 years.

But Potocki continued to contribute to the Corps. In 1966 and 1968, respectively, he was a pivotal figure in the creation of the Marine Corps League River Valley Detachment in Wausau, then the Plover-based Central Wisconsin Detachment. He held the first commandant position for the Wausau detachment, going on to serve a total of 11 terms.

Potocki’s dedication to his community goes beyond military and law enforcement service. Through Marine Corps League detachment fundraisers, he helps distribute food to veterans and families during the Christmas season, as well as clothes and other items to veterans at King Veterans Home.

“We usually buy about $3,000 worth of food baskets,” he said. “We start with the middle city first, and we give whatever else we have to the food pantry in Plover. Last year, we gave them 847 pounds of food.”

Potocki also worked with a Plover committee to establish and construct the Korean War Memorial near Lake Pacawa Park. A 53-year-member of the Marine Corps League, Potocki also participated in a 271 Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

“Other detachments nominate other people,” Ray said. “But I guess what I did was more than what some other guy did, and that’s why I won.”