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Monday, 10-Jul-2006 18:17 Email | Share | | Bookmark
A Tale of Two Heroes: Jamie Bryner & LCpl Steven Szwydek!

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Jamie Bryner is a hero in my book! Fair Winds Steven. We miss you! - JHD

Monday July 10, 2006
Town memorializes hero


Jamie Bryner never had a conversation with Lance Cpl. Steven W. Szwydek before an improvised explosive device killed the 20-year-old Marine last October.

The pair was separated by eight years and half the world at the time.

Yet Bryner's actions not only brought him closer to Szwydek's spirit, they united 600 people given the opportunity Sunday to memorialize their friend, neighbor, classmate and fellow Marine.

"Jamie, I hope you know the impact you've had on us and all the people in this auditorium and how important it is that we never forget," Nancy Szwydek said to the 13-year-old Needmore, Pa., resident who made her son his "fallen hero."

In two months, Jamie solicited more than $5,000 needed to give Southern Fulton High School a statue honoring the 2003 graduate who served with Weapons Co., 2nd Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, also known as 2/2 Weapons Co.

Jamie, an eighth-grader in the Southern Fulton School District, only met Szwydek twice before his final deployment to Iraq last summer. The only thing the boy knew they had in common was a lifelong desire to be a Marine.

"That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what's right with our younger generation," said Maj. Curtis Hill, a Fulton County, Pa., native who served as master of ceremonies.

The afternoon's ceremony culminated with the statue's unveiling, after haunting selections performed by the St. Patrick's Chorale and a Marine Corps brass quintet, remarks from commanding officers and the 2/2 Weapons Co. chaplain, and gratitude expressed by the Szwydeks and Bryners.

People representing several branches of the military and several generations thanked Jamie, frequently calling him a Marine. Jamie plans to attend Young Marines boot camp next summer and is preparing care packages to send overseas.

"Jamie, since the age of 3, has had a passion for this," said his father, Curtis.

The statue, displaying combat boots and a helmet, is not only dedicated to Szwydek, but everyone killed while serving the United States.

Steven Szwydek "was a kind, caring soldier. He was willing to lay down his life for his freedom," Jamie said.

"Freedom is not free. We do vow to make sure no one forgets that," Nancy Szwydek said.

Her youngest son, Corey Szwydek, is preparing to train with the U.S. Navy.

Watching servicemen from the 2/2 Weapons Co. gathered around the statue, she called them "my Marines."


CopyrightThe Herald-Mail ONLINE


# 1 - Jamie Bryner, left, watches the unveiling of a memorial statue to Fulton County (Pa.) Marine Lance Cpl. Steven W. Szwydek Sunday at Southern Fulton High School. Jamie solicited more than $5,000 in two months for the statue. (Photo credit: by Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer)

# 2 - Chaplain Lt. Ted Williams addresses the audience Sunday during a ceremony remembering Fulton County (Pa.) Marine Lance Cpl. Steven W. Szwydek. (Photo credit: by Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer)

# 3 - Diana Bryner leans her head on the shoulder of son Jamie while her other son, Joey, watches the unveiling of the memorial statue honoring Lance Cpl. Steven W. Szwydek, a Fulton County Marine, Sunday at Southern Fulton High School. In two months, Jamie solicited more than $5,000 needed to give Southern Fulton High School a statue honoring Szwydek, a 2003 graduate of the school. (Photo credit: by Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer)

# 4 - Stephanie Bard, Szwydek's sister, sings the national anthem Sunday during the ceremony at Southern Fulton High School. (Photo credit: by Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer)

# 5 - Jamie Bryner accepts a framed print of the poster shown at left from Nancy and Mike Szwydek, the parents of Lance Cpl. Steven W. Szwydek, during the ceremony Sunday. (Photo credit: by Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer)

Saturday, 8-Jul-2006 16:02 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Pfc Dustin Butler!
Marine wants to follow in father’s footsteps
July 7, 2006; Submitted on: 07/07/2006 08:52:07 AM ; Story ID#: 2006778527

By Pfc. David A. Weikle, 2nd Marine Division

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (July 7, 2006) -- Pfc. Dustin Butler has a dream of what he wants to do with his life. The assaultman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment dreams of one day sighting in and fulfilling the sniper’s principle of “One shot, one kill.”

Butler, who graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 14, 2005, wants to be a Marine Corps sniper.

“My stepfather was a sniper and trained me to behave like a sniper, waiting for that one perfect shot,” said the Wintergarden, Fla. native. “He taught me the importance of patience and consistency.”

Butler looked to his stepfather and grandfather when he began considering the military. Both men told him of the camaraderie and brotherhood they had found in the Marines.

“I loved the Corps. The only regret I had was that I got out,” said Lee Belasky, Butler’s stepfather, a propane and natural gas serviceman. “My experiences in the Corps, both good and bad, made me a part of an everlasting brotherhood.”

That brotherhood was something that appealed to Butler. But it was an experience from childhood that had the most impact on him.

“We were sitting in church on Veterans Day and they asked everyone who had served to stand up,” said the short and stocky Butler. “I saw my father standing up and most of the there people were thanking him. I saw the respect that people had for him and those other veterans.”

It was the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which was the final push for Butler to join the Corps. He felt the patriotic call to defend the nation and set out to do just that even though he was still in high school.

“Anyone who has the ability to take action has the responsibility to do so,” he said. “I went to speak with a recruiter that day.”

His transformation into a Marine truly started July 20, 2005 when he went aboard MCRD Parris Island, S.C. Butler was reborn as a Marine Oct. 14, 2005 when he stood shoulder to shoulder with his father and grandfather in front of the Marines’ Memorial beside the Petross Parade Deck.

“It was one of those moments you never forget,” Butler said. “Three generations of Marines, standing together as part of the family that is the Corps.”

Butler went home to enjoy his leave before having to report to the Infantry Taining Battalion at the School of Infantry-East, Camp Geiger, N.C. He followed in his father and grandfather’s steps by choosing to join the infantry.

“He could’ve gotten another job,” said Belasky. “But he was like me and my father, and wanted to be part of the infantry and what it stood for.”

While at ITB, Butler sustained a foot injury, which caused him to get dropped from training. He was put into the medical recovery platoon until he was able to train again.

“MRP was very difficult for him,” his father said. “We had to help him stay motivated and reminded him what he joined for. That, and determination are what helped him get through it.”

Butler is now getting ready to deploy with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. The training the battalion is receiving builds on infantry skills for the urban environment he learned in SOI.

“We patrol and clear buildings and are learning how to better communicate with each other,” Butler said. “We use simulation rounds and practice grenades to simulate combat.”

Sim rounds, as they are called, allow participants to be more realistically challenged. The Marines learn how to reload their weapons, conserve ammunition in combat and see where mistakes cause causalities.

Butler plans to apply to the sniper program after deployment. He feels he needs battlefield experience before he enters the program.

“Marines in a unit need to be able to trust each other,” he said. “When you go to a unit like the snipers, they expect someone with a little experience. Deploying will give me the chance to do that.”


MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.— Pfc. Dustin Butler, an assaultman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment loads a magazine simulation rounds in preparation for a final patrol at the military operations in urban terrain facility here, June 9. Butler hopes to enter the sniper program after deploying . Photo by: Pfc. David A. Weikle

Tuesday, 6-Jun-2006 12:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Belleau Wood - a bit of Corps history!

The Battle for Belleau Woods was fierce and often very personal.
Floyd Gibbons with Marine escort.
Iron Mike - Quantico
Floyd Gibbons’ Legacy to the Marines ©2002
By Dick Culver

While the Marines had been among the first troops to arrive in France after our declaration of war against the Kaiser, they had initially been utilized as guard and garrison troops. General Pershing, while impressed with the smartness of the Marines and their ability to perform even the most menial tasks with no complaint, he was not convinced that a bunch of Sea Soldiers could or would function well when integrated into a modern land Army. The Commandant was not amused and used every trick he could muster to get the Marines into a separate unit that would function under their own officers and NCOs. Grudgingly they were slowly put into the lines to accustom them to the peculiarities of trench warfare and were finally brigaded with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade consisting of the 9th and 23rd Infantry Regiments and the 5th Machine Gun Battalion. The Marine Units were the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, collectively known as the 4th Marine Brigade.

Constant training and tours in the trenches had hardened the 2nd Army Division which now was the parent unit of both the Army’s 3rd Brigade and the 4th Marine Brigade commanded by Army Major General Harbord. While both the 3rd and 4th Brigades had been combat seasoned, neither had ever participated in a major action. This was soon to change.

The French notified General Pershing that Paris was in danger of being overrun, and the German 5th Guards Division had advanced within 50 miles of the City of Light. The 2nd Division was tapped to stop the German threat to Paris and to the honor of the French citizenry. Since this is primarily a story of Marines, I will stick primarily to the Marines’ action, but can’t leave out an organization that the Marines thought of as their own – the Army’s 2nd Engineers (a part of the 2nd Division, along with the 3rd [Army] Brigade).

The first couple of days resulted in further German advances being repulsed by extremely accurate Marine rifle fire and counter-attacks. The battle began to grow and reach crescendo proportions from the 1st of June though the 6th. The 5th Regiment had advanced on hill 142 the morning of June 6th to be followed by the 6th Regiment on the evening of June 6th to make a push for the wood proper.

Floyd Gibbons had become perhaps as famous as (but a bit more flamboyant than) Ernie Pyle in WWII, and was noted for his friendship and admiration for the U.S. Marines. On the evening of 6 June 1918, Gibbons attached himself to 3/6 under the command of Benjamin S. Berry. Major Berry advised Gibbons to go back as it was “hotter than hell in there”… Major Berry advanced and was almost immediately wounded. Gibbons hit the deck and was soon wounded in both the left arm and shoulder. A final bullet ricocheted off a rock and took out his left eye exiting through the right side of his helmet… Gibbons remained conscious throughout the entire ordeal until he could be finally evacuated and removed via ambulance to a field hospital. Prior to jumping off into the Wood, Gibbons had handed his earlier dispatches to a friend prior to entering Belleau Wood, asking him to file his notes for him if he did not survive the ordeal, and thereby hangs the tail.

General Pershing had an “ironclad” rule against identifying individual units in contact with the enemy, and until this time no specific unit had been identified in action. The American Public was literally slobbering for news of their units overcoming the Huns. Things were about to change!

Floyd Gibbons was a popular and well known individual greatly admired by his contemporaries. The news of his grievous wounds spread rapidly to the rear and it was feared that Floyd had written his last story. The censors got together and decided to publish Floyd’s last dispatches without censoring them as a tribute to the famed reporter. The Army censors also being great fans of Gibbons, agreed and Floyd’s last dispatches were published lauding the glorious exploits of the Marines in Belleau Wood. This was done without the knowledge or permission of General Pershing! The Marines being unaware of the content of Gibbons’ dispatches and up to their ears in Germans, simply continued to attack.

The dispatches concerning the battle of Belleau Wood continued to roll in uncensored for three more days and the Marines soaked up the lion’s share of the publicity. Finally the censorship was reapplied in spades and unit identification was again stopped by the Army censors. …But it was too late. The American Public, hungry for news of “their boys” in the trenches, took the Marines to heart and rightly or wrongly, the Corp’s reputation was made.

Floyd survived his terrible wounds and was eventually awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm while being escorted by his beloved Marines as an honor guard.

The indiscretion(s) resulting from publishing Floyd’s unaltered dispatches, forever changed the American Public’s perception of the United States Marines. Now these elite troops were the most important ground troops suppressing the Hun and winning the war against the Kaiser. The Marines of course, had no idea of what was happening. Conversely, General Pershing DID have an idea and was busily gnashing his teeth.

The Marines continued to shed glory on themselves throughout the end of the war and came away with an unblemished reputation. The Marines had become (rightly or wrongly) the darlings of the American Public.
Floyd became instantly identified with his Marines and for many years thereafter went into places of eminent danger with “his” Marines, usually wearing the Marine Forrest Green Uniform. In 1941, Floyd Gibbons was posthumously made an official U.S. Marine by the Marine Corps League.

Once the war was over, General Pershing commissioned a French sculptor to create a bronze statue to commemorate the U.S. Army Doughboy’s service in WWI. General Pershing told his staff to furnish a model to pose for the French sculptor for his commemorative statue. Apparently not too much guidance was given, and the individual assigned to pose for the statue was a Marine Private. The Frenchman, having no intramural rivalries in his psyche, modeled the Marine Private in his entirety – complete with the Marine Corps Emblem on his helmet!

When General Pershing saw the finished statue, he refused to accept the Frenchman’s work of art, since it had a USMC emblem on the helmet! Pershing was, in a word, outraged (and still extremely upset about the breech of censorship which he saw as an unfair overshadowing of the United States Army’s exploits in the Great War)! General Douglas MacArthur was also outraged and continued to hold a grudge even after he fled Corregidor in the early days of WWII. When safely ensconced in Australia, he immediately wrote each (Army) unit on the Rock up for a Presidential Unit Citation – all except one, the 4th Regiment of Marines. When his oversight was pointed out to him, he ground his teeth and made a statement to the effect that the Marines had garnered unfair publicity in WWI and he was not going to add to their fame and glory in “THIS” war! It wasn’t until the Inchon Landing in Korea that he finally forgave the Marines their earlier indiscretions when they pulled the Army’s chestnuts out of the fire. From that time on, they became “his” Marines and apparently all was forgiven, some 32-years after the fact.

Help was in the wings concerning the now orphaned statue, with the lonely Marine Corps Emblem however, as General Smedley Butler (holder of two Medals of Honor) saw the statue and fell in love. He took up a collection from all the Marines in the AEF and bought the statue from the Frenchman. They shipped the artwork back to the United States and placed it in front of the old Headquarters Building of the Marine Corps Base at Quantico.

The statue stands there today as a reminder to the Corps of its heritage and remains on guard over the old Headquarters Building of long ago. I often have stood in front of it and harked back to an earlier time. Although uncovered, I have given a slow and meaningful mental salute to those fine Marines who fought and often gave their lives so that later generations would enjoy freedom. My generation (living in the shadow of theirs) would be inspired by the glory and sacrifices of those gallant “Soldiers of the Sea” who went before. When I was a youngster in the Corps, we still had Marines on active duty who had fought at Belleau Wood, and were combat veterans of “The Great War.” Two of my first three Commandants had fought at Belleau Wood and received the Navy Cross for their actions (General Shepherd and General Cates). A third, General Pate, was also a veteran of WWI (albeit an Army veteran of the Great War). One of my mentors of the time was a Marine Warrant Officer who had participated in WWI and been assigned as a part of the famous railroad “Mail Guard” in the 1920s… General Cates, then serving as a Captain, had been my Dad’s OIC of the Spokane, Washington Recruiting Station in the 1920s. I once stood in awe while they talked while stopped on the steps to Little Hall (the old PX) in Quantico. Cates was the Commanding General of Quantico at the time, having stepped down from the office of Commandant after a four year tour – General Cates simply wasn’t ready to retire! My point is simply that I felt much closer to the veterans of the Great War than those who now serve. My Dad had joined the Corps in 1918 (a bit underage), and much later had a contemporary with him during WWII who had sailed around the World as a member of the Marine Detachment on a Cruiser with Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet in 1905… It is now a different century of course, and perhaps a bit more difficult to personally identify with those who made history before us, but not so very long ago, such was not the case with the veterans of Belleau Wood!


SIDE NOTES: The statue in the story is often called “Iron Mike” although another statue of a WWI Marine with a machine gun over his shoulder at Parris Island is also called “Iron Mike”… I was aware of both, since I had grown up around Quantico, and when I went to Parris Island, I was told that the statue on “the Island” was also known as Iron Mike! In my youth, I simply assumed that every Marine Corps post must have a WWI statue called Iron Mike! Which came first? I don’t have a clue, but my Dad, a Marine in 1918 tells me that the statue in Quantico had been there as long as he can remember (actually it was shortly following WWI), and he was at Parris Island in 1918… The mystery is shrouded in the mists of time…

The 4th Brigade of Marines were closely tied to the 2nd Army Division (Commanded by General John A. Lejeune, following [Army] General Harbord’s reassignment to the AEF Staff) – General Lejeune thus became the first Marine Corps General to ever command an Army Division). The 4th Marine Brigade held a great respect for the Army infantry contingent of the 2nd Division and especially the 2nd Engineers. Following the war, the Marines changed the name of their magazine, originally called “The Marines Magazine” (a sort of predecessor of the “Leatherneck” magazine), to the “Marines Magazine and Indian” in honor of their brothers in arms (the patch of the 2nd Division depicted a colorful Indian Head as their logo). I once donated a copy of the last issue of “The Marines Magazine” and the first issue of “The Marines Magazine and Indian” to the Marine Corps Museum. These had been in my Dad’s trunk, along with many copies on either side of the name change. John W. Thomason makes frequent mention in his book, “Fix Bayonets” of the Marines’ affection for the 2nd Engineers. The tone of the articles in the magazine conveys great camaraderie between the Marines of the 4th Brigade and their comrades in the 2nd Division. Apparently it was a great “love-love” relationship.

# 1 - The Battle for Belleau Woods was fierce and often very personal. Marine affinity for the bayonet terrified the German Infantry.

# 2 - Floyd Gibbons with Marine escort going to receive his Croix de Guerre.

# 3 - Iron Mike standing in front of the old Headquarters Building in Quantico. Note Marine Emblem on helmet.

Friday, 5-May-2006 12:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
14th Marines are Semper Fi!

LCpl Danny Studdard, Sgt. Danny Garcia, and other 14th Marines were attached to 2/2 Fox on their latest deployment. This is the story of the 14th USMCR organization and deployment. Welcome Home Jarheads! -JHD

Making the switch from firepower to horsepower

FORT WORTH — Lance Cpl. Danny Studdard is an artilleryman by trade and training.

But it’s been 18 months since he’s worked with 155 mm howitzers, and by his own admission, he might not be any good at putting steel on target anymore.

“I’ve totally forgotten it,” said Studdard, 23, an Irving man who serves in the headquarters battery of the 14th Marines in Fort Worth. “It’s a skill you’ve got to work at a lot, and I haven’t.”

Not that Studdard hasn’t been serving. Quite the opposite. He was mobilized for active duty last May and sent to a Sunni-dominated province in Iraq for a seven-month tour of duty — as an infantryman and truck driver.

Across the 14th Marines, one of the Marine Corps Reserve’s largest units nationwide, artillerymen, supply sergeants and personnel clerks have taken on new combat roles in Iraq that have little to nothing to do with their previous specialized training.

The reasons for the shift are simple enough — the Marines need considerably more truck drivers, infantrymen and military police than they need howitzers. Also, the Corps is steeped in a philosophy that every Marine is first and foremost a rifleman.

It’s likely, though, that the changes are more than a temporary response to the stress Iraq has put on the military’s smallest branch. Already the Corps and its reserve force are making the changes permanent.

“For a major land campaign that involved maneuver over broad areas, you would want to have as much artillery as we once had,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, who as the Marine Reserve’s top commander helped shape the changes before his retirement last year.

“But right now, the fight we’re engaged in and the one we see in front of us is one that has lower requirements for artillery. So you make some adjustments.”

The 14th Marines is home to the Reserve’s entire artillery arsenal, at one time five battalions and dozens of batteries strung from California to Pennsylvania.

The regimental headquarters has been at Naval Air Station Fort Worth since 1998, and the headquarters of 2nd Battalion has called Fort Worth or Grand Prairie home since the 1960s.

Last year, though, the regiment began shrinking. The 4th Battalion switched from artillery to light infantry specializing in anti-terrorism security, and 1st Battalion is scheduled to make a transition into reconnaissance when it returns from Iraq.

Nothing similar is feared by the 2nd Battalion, based at the old Naval Air Station Dallas.

“My entire battalion is transitioning to the artillery rocket system,” said Maj. Stanton Chambers, executive officer of 2nd Battalion and a Dallas police officer.

“We’re getting one of the new showpieces of the Marine Corps. I have no concern that we’re going to move out of artillery.”

Since 2003, the reservists in the North Texas units have been regularly deploying to Iraq at a pace that will tap the regiment of available units and manpower in spring 2007.

“Approximately one battalion of Marines has been used every seven months for a deployment,” Col. Paul O’Leary, regimental commander, wrote to the Star-Telegram . “However, based on current regulations we will have used all of our reserve forces and will not be able to use them again unless there was another presidential callup.”

Because the artillery units use 5- and 7-ton trucks to haul the guns, they were a natural to haul infantry and supplies in Iraq, according to O’Leary and McCarthy. Most of the Marines in the unit have the certification to drive the trucks.

They receive a few weeks of training in California and then are attached to active-duty infantry battalions for the trip to Iraq.

After arriving in Iraq in July, Studdard and four other local Marines were assigned as drivers for Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, based in cities near Fallujah.

But in reality, “I was a grunt with a license,” Studdard joked. “We went on raids, weapons cache sweeps, patrols; we lived in the holes we dug.”

Like the vehicles of many of the other Marines from Fort Worth, his vehicle was hit by a homemade bomb. In his case, it did little damage. But in others attacks men in the Fort Worth unit sustained severe injuries.

“The first month we were there was rough,” said Sgt. Danny Garcia, a supply sergeant from Fort Worth.

“We took five casualties within an eight-day period. We thought it was going to be a long tour.”

O’Leary, who is at Marine Corps headquarters in Virginia planning the future makeup of the Corps, wrote that while his Marines aren’t working with artillery, they’re “gaining great combat skills and small-unit leadership experience. I am confident that when they return, with available training time, they can transition back to being artillerymen again.”

Chris Vaughn, (817) 390-7547


Monday, 24-Apr-2006 12:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Gone But Not Forgotten!

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Division warriors: Gone but not forgotten
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2006428165218
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 24, 2006) -- The brilliance of the mid-morning sun shining off the crystal blue waters provided an ideal setting for the somber, reflective mood of Marines and family members on the inlet’s grassy shores. They stared at 265 displays of rifles, boots and helmets overlooking the serene sea.

These men, women, boys and girls came from the nation’s East and West Coasts, from the plains of the Mid-West to the swamps of the South, to remember the sacrifices their loved ones had made during this past year in Iraq. The 2nd Marine Division family solemnly assembled on a grassy amphitheater here April 21 to render final honors to their Marines, sailors and soldiers who had been killed in action while fighting in the Global War on Terrorism.

The division, comprised primarily of infantrymen, tankers, artillerymen and combat engineers, was deployed to western Iraq’s still-turbulent Al Anbar province from February 2005 through February 2006. Their units operated across thousands of square miles of lush farmlands and inhospitable deserts, helping Iraqi Security Forces battle the persistent insurgency and restore the country’s broken infrastructure. Many warriors paid the ultimate price in doing so.

Cmdr. Dale White, 8th Marine Regiment’s chaplain, began the memorial service with an invocation to offer a few words of solace for the families of the fallen.

“As a division family, we remember our comrades on the battlefield,” he said. “They’re gone from us now, but they are never forgotten.”

White added that the sacrifice these men and women made was equal to that done by the great warriors of battles past.

“Throughout our nation’s history, warriors have fought and continue to fight for the things that make our nation great,” he continued. “On this day in this moment in history, we remember and honor those with whom we stood shoulder to shoulder in Iraq.”

Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, 2nd Marine Division’s commanding general, then took the podium to address the crowd.

“These Marines, soldiers and sailors are our friends,” Huck began. “They were high school athletes, college students, the kid next door. But they each volunteered to serve and give something bigger than themselves.

“In the great scheme of things, every one of them knew that what matters is not how long you live, but why you live, what you stand for and what you’re willing to die for,” he continued. “These men and women stood extremely tall.”

Battlefield commanders read Biblical scriptures, followed by their sergeants major calling the names of the fallen troops during the final role calls, only to be answered by silence.

This somber lull was interrupted only by the sound of seven rifles firing into the air three times, rendering a 21-gun salute as a final honor.

After the playing of taps, families and service members walked to their loved ones’ memorial. Some thumbed the dog tags hanging from the rifles’ grips; others knelt at the base of their family members’ display and rested their head atop the helmet. Still others simply stared out at the waters in quiet prayer and reflection.

The warriors who gave their all in battle are now immortalized in the memories of their loved ones and comrades-in-arms, as well as the words uttered by their commander.

“It is said that every Marine who ever lived is living still in the Marines that claim the title today,” Huck said. “This is the essence of being a Marine. May they remain forever living in your memory … they will in ours.”

# 1 -MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- Laura Youngblood, of Long Island, N.Y., mourns the loss of her husband Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood, a corpsman with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment who was killed in action in Iraq while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. Photo by: Cpl. Lucian Friel

# 2 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- Marines with 2nd Marine Division paid their respects to the Marines killed in action in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division conducted combat operations in the Al Anbar province from February 2005 to February 2006. 265 Marines, sailors and soldiers were honored during the ceremony. Photo by: Cpl. Lucian Friel

# 3 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- 1st Lt. Jonathan D. Morris and Marines with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion honor the Marines with 2nd Marine Division who were killed in action in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division conducted combat operations in the Al Anbar province from February 2005 to February 2006. 265 Marines, sailors and soldiers were honored during the ceremony. Photo by: Cpl. Lucian Friel

# 4 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- Marines with 2nd Marine Division paid their respects to the Marines killed in action in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division conducted combat operations in the Al Anbar province from February 2005 to February 2006. 265 Marines, sailors and soldiers were honored during the ceremony. Photo by: Cpl. Lucian Friel

# 5 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- Lance Cpl. Jordan D. Soderstrum, a Marine musician, pays his respects to the Marines killed in action in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division conducted combat operations in the Al Anbar province from February 2005 to February 2006. 265 Marines, sailors and soldiers were honored during the ceremony. Photo by: Cpl. Lucian Friel

# 6 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- Sgt. Euqirne Drum, with Headquarters Battalion, holds onto the dog tags of a fellow fallen Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice during a tour in Iraq fighting the Global War on Terrorism. Many family members and Marines gathered together to honor their fallen family members and comrades. Photo by: Cpl. Athanasios Genos

# 7 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (April 21, 2006)- Sgt. Aixa Escobar kneels down next to the memorial of a fallen Marine as she sheds tears in remembrance of a fallen Marine who made the highest sacrifice during a tour in Iraq fighting the Global War on Terrorism. Many family members and Marines gathered together to honor their fallen family members and comrades. Photo by: Cpl. Athanasios Genos


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