Marine Corps Base Hawaii --
With operations winding down overseas, 3rd Marine Regiment continued the tradition of remembering 119 service members from the regiment killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan with a memorial run followed by a ceremony, June 6, 2013.
Marines and sailors from the regiment gathered in formations at Landing Zone 216. Of these runners, 119 Marines and sailors each wore a black shirt that bore the words, “All gave some. Some gave all. In memory of our fallen brothers.” In addition, each wore the dog tags of fallen service members.
Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, sergeant major of 3rd Marines, reminded the Marines and sailors why they were there, and encouraged them to always honor their fellow service members.
After the speech, the battalions right-faced and joined LeHew and Col. Nathan Nastase, commanding officer, 3rd Marines, kicking off a 2.5-mile memorial run for motivation and to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the tide of war.
“I’ve been fortunate enough not to lose anyone in war I personally know, but the spirit and motivation here is immense,” said Cpl. Jose Leey, an awards clerk with 3rd Marines. “Some of my friends might not be here one day and, if it comes to that, I will honor them with the same love, respect and passion as the fallen brothers we are remembering today.”
Running down Mokapu Road, Marines could be heard a mile away, shouting cadence at the top of their lungs and added in an occasional spirited “ooh-rah.”
Making their way back to the starting point, 3rd Marines formed up in front of a platform where a pair of combat boots and a M16A4 service rifle stood in the middle with a desert Kevlar helmet sitting on top. Nastase hopped on the platform and addressed the Marines.
“Marines and sailors, the easy part is over,” Nastase said. “As we call the names of these 119 brave heroes who are no longer with us, I want you to remember their sacrifices and give them the ultimate respect.”
The ceremony began with calling the names of the fallen Marines who served in the regiment’s three battalions. For every name called, a Marine wearing a black shirt and dog tags of a fallen hero ran up to the pedestal. In front of the pedestal, each Marine removed the dog tags and placed them on the pistol grip, then took a brief position of attention as a final sign of respect.
“It’s difficult to hold your composure when removing those dog tags from your neck and hanging them on that rifle,” Leey said. “The best thing you can do is honor (the life) they lived.”
“This symbolizes all of the friends we’ve lost in combat,” said Cpl. Shane Owens, a training noncommissioned officer with 3rd Marines. “We do this to give our respect, and from here we move forward and celebrate each and every one of them.”
June 6, 2013 may have marked a special tradition for 3rd Marines, but the date is also historically significant. On June 6, 1944, Operation Overlord, also known as D-Day, marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe as more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France and marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. The event is remembered as the largest amphibious assault in military history. All of the heroes from D-Day are given the utmost respect as they are remembered and honored annually.