MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
More than 100 Marines and sailors of Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, stood at Dewey Square for their last formation together, May 21, 2013.
Family, friends and fellow unit leaders attended the event in which the battery, attached to 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, deactivated in a formal ceremony. Although this was not a typical battalion-level ceremony, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band made a rare exception and provided musical accompaniment.
Capt. Morris Sharber Jr., the commanding officer of Echo Battery, stood firmly and quietly as 1st Sgt. Enrique Lopez, Echo battery first sergeant, approached the front of the formation. As all looked on in silence, Lopez retrieved the red and gold guidon from battery executive officer 1st Lt. Dan Ealy and Cpl. Matthew Palmer, a cannoneer for Echo Battery, and carried it to a lone stand near the audience.
Echo Battery was first activated in 1927 and deactivated a year later. Since then, it has been activated three more times. Echo Battery was most recently activated at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in 2008, and participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“For the Marines and sailors of Battery E, I cannot thank you enough for the service you’ve given to your country … Although your unit’s flag is being deactivated and furled today know that you are a part of history,” said Lt. Col. Michael Roach, the commanding officer of 1st Bn., 12th Marines, who offered remarks at the ceremony. “We’ll always be with you … you’ll always talk about these moments and times with excitement and reminisce about it because you were part of history today … the world is a safer place because of you serving against the War on Terror … Battery E, we ask you to take a knee.”
Roach and Sgt. Maj. Paul Davis, the battalion sergeant major of 1st Bn., 12th Marines also awarded Sharber with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his work with the remain behind element and as the commanding officer.
“It (was) a sad day for me,” Ealy said. “It’s a battery that I will hold dear to my heart because it was a tight brotherhood.”
Ealy, a native of Moundsville, W.Va., has been part of Echo Battery for three years, and served as a platoon commander while the battery was deployed to Kajaki District, Afghanistan. He said he looks forward to taking leave, as Echo Battery has been extremely busy with Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2012 and two Spartan Fury exercises.
Most recently, the battery has returned from the unit deployment program to Okinawa from October 2012 to May 2013. The Marines and sailors trained at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, supporting operations for 12th Marine Regiment and firing more than 1,400 rounds.
“It’s been full speed for us for the last 14 (to) 15 months,” Ealy said. “(I’m) looking forward to the Marines getting their time off as well.”
Former Echo Battery Marines and sailors are currently transitioning to one of the remaining 1st Bn., 12th Marine batteries, or leaving active duty. The battery’s two howitzers that stood behind these Marines throughout the ceremony were shipped to 12th Marine Regiment, based in Camp Smedley Butler, in Okinawa, Japan.
“When our time of deactivation is nigh, about two minutes from now, we will not die, we will merely slumber,” Sharber said. “The battery will live on in the hearts of the Marines who stand behind me. The foundation we have built in the last 16 months will endure. I ask of the Marines behind me that when they go to their new batteries, they will take a little piece of Echo in their hearts with them. They’ll remember the lessons that I taught them and I’ll surely remember the lessons that they taught me. Thank you to all of them. Ladies and gentlemen, Echo endures, Semper Fidelis.”