Video here: http://www.jdnews.com/news/marsoc-69759-memorial-new.html
In a sobering juxtaposition, the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command chose to unveil a new memorial to its fallen warriors Tuesday as the Corps celebrated its birthday.
Since the inception of MarSOC in 2005, six Marines and a Navy corpsman have been killed in action, all of them in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The new memorial, funded by private donations to the Marine Raiders Foundation, will be composed of two short walls etched with a star for each of the fallen, standing by the entry of MarSOC’s newest operations facility. One wall is now complete, bearing the names of MarSOC’s seven fallen heroes, while the second is scheduled to be completed in under a year’s time.
Tuesday’s brief memorial ceremony was attended by surviving family members and Marines and sailors from MarSOC, as well as its commander, Maj. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, and commanding general of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik.
At 8 a.m., those in attendance stood at attention while Marines hoisted the colors, fastening the flag at half-staff, a reminder of other troops who lost their lives at the Fort Hood Army post late last week. And the reality of the service members’ sacrifice intruded on the day in yet another way: The seventh star on the new memorial wall was added just days before, when Marine Sgt. Charles I. Cartwright was killed in action on Nov. 7.
Following a moving invocation by MarSOC’s chaplain, Navy Cmdr. Dale C. White, Robeson’s address highlighted the exclusivity and the honor of being a part of the force.
“We are here because who we are and what we do is what sets us apart form the rest of the world,” he said.
“On the battlefield of where we go and where we fight, uncommon valor is still common virtue.”
The toll of a bell for each of the fallen and a rifle volley resonated across the fields.
The morning did end on a celebratory note: The Marines observed a traditional birthday cake-cutting, feeding pieces to the youngest and oldest Marines present, and read aloud former Marine Corps commandant Gen. John A. Lejeune’s 1921 birthday message, in keeping with tradition, as well as a message from current the Corps commandant, Gen. James T. Conway.
Certain passages took on a greater significance in the context of the day.
“To be a Marines is to be a member of America’s warrior class — to be one of the few who steps forward with the courage and conviction to face whatever dangers await,” Conway wrote.
Maj. Steven A. Gill, an adjutant for MarSOC who works closely with the surviving families, said the occasion was very emotional for all. But in a way, the physicality of the memorial was reassuring.
“It reaffirms to them that thay haven’t been forgotten,” Gill said. “The loss of their family member is being remembered and is not taken for granted.”
The deputy commander of MarSOC, Col. Stephen Davis, said the monument emphasized the timelessness of what those who perished in war had done.
“The names of our fallend are etched in granite,” he said. “That’s a stone that stands that test of time, as does their deeds and their sacrifices.”