MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Marines, sailors, family and friends gathered for a memorial service to honor the nine Marines and one Navy corpsman from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who were killed in action while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The service took place between Hangars 101 and 102 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii Tuesday morning.
The entire 3rd Regiment was in attendance to honor the courage and sacrifice of their fallen brothers. Memorialized were: Lance Cpl. James Argentine, Lance Cpl. Travis Babine, Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Garcia, Cpl. Christian GuzmanRivera, Sgt. Jay Hoskins, Cpl. Matthew Lembke, Lance Cpl. John Malone, Lance Cpl. Alfonso Ochoa Jr., and Lance Cpl. Joshua Whittle.
Ten rifles with fixed bayonets lined up across the flight line, with a Kevlar —rested on the buttstock of each rifle, identification tags draped from each pistol grip, and a pair of combat boots at the bottom of the memorial. Photos of the fallen Marines and sailor were staged next to the field memorials reminding the onlookers of the heroism of these men.
“Where do we find such men?” asked Lt. Col. Patrick Cashman, commanding officer, 2/3. “We don’t find them, they find us. Something in the way they’re raised, something in their formative years drives them to seek out challenges, conflict and sacrifice, and it’s a good thing they do.”
During the ceremony, Marines read Bible verses from the Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 and Psalm 23. “Amazing Grace” was played on bagpipes to honor the men and their bravery. Leaders then performed their final roll call, along with a 3-volley salute.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of family and friends, as the first startling crack of a rifle was let off. Service members stood at the position of attention and honored the men with a final salute as the somber echo of “Taps” filled the airfield.
While service members respectfully raised their right hand to the brim of their cover, many couldn’t fight the single tear which fell from their eyes, knowing this marked the final goodbye to their brothers.
Many Marines coped with the loss of their brothers by sharing stories with one another, and family and friends.
“It really helps to know that my son was so well taken care of,” said Velma Torres, mother of GuzmanRivera. “Talking to the Marines who lived with him every day was really comforting. It’s great to know that his own special family loved him. He was really taken care of out there.”
Many of the fallen service members’ families attended the ceremony. They agreed the ceremony gave them closure on their tragedies and added they were so proud of their lost loved ones.
Torres said the emotional ceremony, which honored her son and the men he fought with, was beautiful. She said to look at the same sky her son saw in Hawaii put her at ease, and brought her peace. She knows her son did what was right for him, but will never forget his words, “I’ll be home soon.”