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05-15-12, 06:49 AM #1
Marines Forces Europe Honor Belleau Wood Through History, Education5/15/2012 By Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda , Marine Forces Europe
STUTTGART, Germany — Marines with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa are getting a chance to reflect back on the history, sacrifice and legend that shrouds the battlefields of Belleau Wood. The series of classes are in preparation for the 94th-year anniversary of the battle with a Memorial Day ceremony in Aisne-Marne, France, slated for May 27.
“The Marines attending [the ceremony] will be more informed and have a better understanding of where they are,” said Sgt. Paul N. Calderon, the driver for the deputy commanding officer, MARFOREUR.
The classes were designed to inform Marines about the sacrifices of the Allied troops as they prepare to participate in a ceremony on the historic grounds of Belleau Wood over Memorial Day weekend. The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., the USMC Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Company from Rota, Spain, and elements of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe, are all scheduled to attend.
“When you have the historic facts, walking through the battlefield doesn’t just feel like a stroll in the woods anymore,” added Calderon, who attended the ceremony last year. “It really puts everything into perspective.”
The Battle for Belleau Wood was fought from June 1- 26, 1918, in the First World War during the German Spring Offensive. Belleau Wood is a 200-acre forest located by the Marne River, approximately 90 kilometers north of Paris; a morsel of French territory that was contended for by the opposing German forces due to its strategic location. The opposing troops launched a surprise-offensive and reached the bank of the Marne River at Chateau-Thierry, which fell on the evening of June 1, 1918. In response, U.S. troops, consisting of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, marched more than 10 kilometers to plug the gap in the line by dawn. After weeks of heavy back-and-forth battles between the Marines and Germans, often reduced to using bayonets and hand-to-hand combat, on June 26, the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines attacked Belleau Wood and cleared the forest of the opposition, ending one of the most ferocious battles the U.S. would fight during the war.
“It’s interesting to see the legends meet the historical facts. We all know of Belleau Wood but don’t always take the time to get a profound understanding of it,” said the Orlando, Fla., native.
Along with honoring the sacrifices U.S. and French troops made during the First World War, the ceremony also commemorates the long, outstanding friendship between France and the United States from World War I until the current war in Afghanistan.
“When you’re at the Belleau Wood [ceremony], it really shows the strong friendship we have with the French that most Marines don’t always think about,” added Calderon.
The Memorial Day celebration is an annual event that is hosted by the American Battle Monuments Commission at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. The ABMC is the guardian of America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials that honor the service, achievements and sacrifices of U.S. Armed Forces.
“It makes you proud to stand in the lineage of these great war fighters. The Marines we learned about are part of the reason we have such a good reputation today.”
05-15-12, 07:09 AM #2
05-15-12, 07:17 AM #3
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