Scores of patrons packed a cozy Irish pub in Floral Park on Saturday evening to show their support for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program and to pay tribute to a local Marine who was killed earlier this year by an Afghan police officer.
Supporters donned shirts bearing the message: “Demand justice for [Lance] Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr. and all the victims of Green and Blue insider attacks.”
Supporters packed the Swing the Teapot where organizers were humbled by the ambitious grassroots campaign to support Greg Buckley Sr., the marine’s father, whose quest continues for answers as to what happened the day his son was killed and what–if anything–is being done to punish those responsible.
“It’s just a warm, warm, great feeling to have people show up like this,” the Oceanside resident said outside the restaurant where a truckload of toys swelled as generous donors continued to pile gifts for children who otherwise wouldn’t have presents to unwrap during the holidays.
Gatherers wrestled with emotions throughout the evening, excited to put a smile on the faces of underprivileged children while growing somber as Buckley spoke of his love for his son and the tragedy that struck soon after Buckley Jr. turned 21.
“He loved being a Marine,” Buckley said, “my son wanted to help people.”
Shane Moynagh, the restaurant’s owner, said he didn’t need much convincing to hold the event at his pub. He said that the decision was a “no brainer” because he was able to help kids as well as provide a forum for Buckley to push for justice.
“If I lost my son I want answers too,” he said. “Something’s not right.”
Since his son’s death, Buckley has written to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama asking for answers, he said, and has sought assistance from other elected officials, including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), but he hasn’t had much luck.
“They want us to believe we live in this make believe bubble and everything is beautiful and everything is great and [Obama] wants us to think the war’s over [in Afghanistan] so he would get re-elected, the war is not over,” he said.
He was critical of the president for leaving Americans in Afghanistan to train native police officers while there’s plenty of work to do at home.
“We have enough problems here,” Buckley said. “We don’t need to be over there training these people where at the end of the day they turn around and executed my son.”
Buckley Jr. and two other Marines were killed in August when an Afghan police officer opened fire shortly after they shared a meal together. Buckley said his son was exercising when he was killed.
“I’m willing to speak out against the government every single day if I have to, I don’t really care because they can’t hurt me at all, because you took my oldest son from me. So how much more can you do to me to hurt me?” he said.
“I don’t want anybody to feel the way I feel,” he added. “If you took a cannon ball and shot into your chest, that’s what I wake up with every day knowing that these people did this to my son.”