Marines in Oklahoma City bombing remembered

4/19/2009 By Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks , 8th Marine Corps District

OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s a chilly April morning here. A pre dawn drizzle covers the pavement in front of the Oklahoma City National Memorial with a clean shine. The wind bears a sharp chill and two pairs of highly polished shoes strike the concrete in a somber unison. The red stripes on their trousers, the oversized white hat and the medals pinned to their chest leave the onlookers no question as to who these men are, but the wreath in the hand of one sparks curiosity.

Some of the faithful know full well why Maj. William Chronister, commanding officer Recruiting Station Oklahoma City and Sgt.Maj. Bryan Zickefoose, sergeant major RS OKC, are bringing a wreath to the site where a bomb blast tore through the Oklahoma City Federal Building and the heart of the nation 14 years ago. But many including some among their own ranks may not know the full story.

The Marine Corps has had its fair share of tragedies, from the legendary battlefields of wars past. But, no matter the number or the circumstances, a loss is a loss. And here in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City two Marines were lost.

Every year on April 19, the survivors and those left behind by the fallen gather to remember the 168 lives extinguished that day. Roll is called - silence is the only reply. Among those names Capt. Randolph Guzman and Sgt. Benjamin Davis are the only Marines.

“It is the duty of every Marine not to forget our fallen and more importantly, always remember their sacrifice,” said Chronister.

After the official ceremony ends and the attendees wander around the memorial grounds the Marines of RS OKC take their turn to remember their personal loss.

Two empty memorial chairs bearing the names of Guzman and Davis are located on the 6th row of the field of chairs symbolizing the floor they were on when the blast struck. Between these chairs Zickefoose places the wreath. News cameras don’t flash, a crowd doesn’t buzz with excitement and there is no slick haired reporter to remark on this humble ceremony – instead, only a few scattered onlookers peer from a distance. The Marines here need no thrills. They simply came here to remember.

“We come here because Marines take care of our own,” said Zickefoose. “We must never forget to remember.”