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Thread: Marines remember the fallen
02-03-08, 06:47 AM #1
Marines remember the fallen
Marines remember the fallen
February 2, 2008 - 12:13AM
DAILY NEWS STAFF
Teary eyed members of the 2nd Marine Division Association exited the Protestant Chapel aboard Camp Lejeune on Friday after a memorial service to remember the fallen members of the division.
"We are memorializing all of our deceased and thanking the present Marines for what they've done," said George Meyer, retired sergeant major and member of the association.
Active duty, retired, and former Marines gathered at the chapel and later, at the field house as part of the 2nd Marine Division Association 67th anniversary commemoration.
The 2nd Marine Division was instituted at Camp Elliot, Calif., in 1941 and transferred to its permanent home on Camp Lejeune in 1946.
A memorial service was in the chapel in remembrance of the 3,339 Marines and sailors from the division that were either killed in action or missing in action since 1942.
During the service, the number of Marines missing in action or killed in action at each battle in which the division was involved was recited, from Guadalcanal in 1942 to Iraq in 2007. When each battle was named, a bell was rung once, and a candle was lit in remembrance.
"You'll see those guys sitting back there with tears in their eyes. They remember the guy that died on either side of them, and they came home," said Peter Grimes, executive director of the 2nd Marine Division Association.
The Rev. Anthony DeMarco, chaplain of the 2nd Marine Division, delivered a message entitled "The Greatness of America" to the crowd during the ceremony.
"Our Marines have a keen mind; they also have a benevolent heart," DeMarco said. "Those who made the supreme sacrifice, we will not forget them. Our hearts and prayers go out to them," he said.
An awards ceremony was held at the field house following the memorial service, with hundreds of active-duty Marines of the 2nd Marine Division in attendance.
As attendees entered the field house, Jim Dunbar, bagpiper for the association, played the Marine Corps hymn. Those already seated stood at attention and responded with an "Ooh-rah" when he finished.
Bill Dunaway, president of the association began the awards ceremony by welcoming the veterans of the past and the warriors of today. The colors of each unit within the division were raised, and a bell was rung as the units were announced, with deployed units also recognized.
After the raising of the colors, the rededication of the battle colors of the 2nd Marine Division began. Each streamer was presented by a different member of the association. Active-duty Marines from the division attached the streamers to the flag. Each streamer represents honors awarded to the division during the various campaigns in which it was involved.
In total, 15 streamers were rededicated. Two of the streamers were new additions this year: the Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer were added last year.
"There's no other ceremony in the Marine Corps like this one," Grimes said.
Following the rededication, five awards were presented to active-duty Marines. Although the awards are given by the association, the recipients are chosen by the active-duty division, Grimes said.
The 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion received the Follow Me Award for marksmanship. 1st Lt. Justin Hunter of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion received the Tarawa Award; Gunnery Sgt. Simon Lemay of the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment received the Clayton B. Vogel Award; Sgt. Stephen Schlau received the Julian C. Smith Award; and Petty Officer 2nd Class John Martinez received the John Henry Balch Award. Martinez is deployed, so his wife accepted the award on his behalf.
Award recipients received a plaque as well as a commemorative Ka-Bar knife.
Members of the association traveled from across the country to attend the events. Edward Owen made the trip from Texas.
"It's a pretty emotional event," Owen said tearfully. "I look forward to visiting the wounded warriors. They are my heroes," he said.
The active-duty Marines who attended the ceremony felt a sense of honor at being a part of the division.
"The highest honor is being here in front of retired Marines who have served before," said Sgt. Christopher Johnson, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. Johnson participated in the awards ceremony as part of the color guard.
Pfc. William Mackenzie of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment enjoyed meeting the veterans.
"It was cool to talk to the vets backstage, they talked about Korea. It was cool that they still have good memories about the Marine Corps," Mackenzie said.
The 67th anniversary celebration continues this weekend with a cookout hosted by the Carolinas Chapter of the 2nd Marine Division Association this afternoon and a formal banquet at the Officer's Club this evening.
"It's been a remarkably moving morning. From the memorial service which is just heart wrenching, to the rededication ceremony which is poignant," Grimes said.
Contact Molly DeWitt at email@example.com or 910-353-1171, ext. 8457.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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