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3rdMAW Memorial Service

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  • 3rdMAW Memorial Service

    This morning I was privileged to attend a Memorial Service for 15 Marines of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq last spring and summer.

    Major General James Amos, the Wing Commander, gave a wonderful speech in tribute to the fallen that I want to share with you.

    Dick Cooke
    ________________________________

    3D MARINE AIRCRAFT WING MEMORIAL REMARKS
    DECEMBER 2, 2003


    IN JANUARY OF 1961 A NEWLY ELECTED PRESIDENT STOOD ON THE WIND SWEPT STEPS OF OUR NATION’S CAPITAL…THE WORLD WATCHED AS HE PUT HIS LEFT HAND ON THE BIBLE, AND…RAISING HIS RIGHT HAND HE SWORE THAT HE WOULD SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, AND THAT HE WOULD BEAR TRUTH FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WORDS OF THAT OATH WAS NOT LOST ON THOSE SERVING IN OUR COUNTRY’S MILITARY IN 1961…NOR IS IT LOST ON THOSE GATHERED HERE TODAY. FOR THAT VERY SAME OATH…THOSE SAME WORDS, FORM THE FOUNDATION OF THE FIDELITY OF OUR CORPS…IT IS OUR OATH OF OFFICE AS WELL. DURING HIS INAUGURAL ADDRESS, PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY SENT A MESSAGE TO THE TYRANTS OF THE WORLD…TO THOSE WHO WOULD DO OUR COUNTRY HARM HE SAID…“LET EVERY NATION KNOW, WHETHER IT WISHES US WELL OR ILL, THAT WE SHALL PAY ANY PRICE, BEAR ANY BURDEN, MEET ANY HARDSHIP, SUPPORT ANY FRIEND, OPPOSE ANY FOE TO ASSURE THE SURVIVAL AND THE SUCCESS OF LIBERTY.”

    THE COMMITMENT OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE POIGNANT THAN IT IS TODAY. THE FIFTEEN MARINES WHOSE SACRIFICE WE HONOR HERE THIS DAY DIDN’T PAY JUST “ANY PRICE”…THEIR FAMILIES GATHERED HERE AMONG US HAVEN’T BORNE “JUST ANY BURDEN”…EACH HAVE GIVEN OUR COUNTRY A FULL MEASURE OF SACRIFICE…THERE IS SIMPLY NOTHING LEFT FOR THEM TO GIVE. WE WHO ARE HERE TODAY AMONG YOU HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN…NOR WILL WE EVER…WE ARE HONORED TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE!

    THE FIFTEEN SETS OF RIFLES, HELMETS AND BOOTS ARRAYED BEFORE YOU ARE SOLELY SYMBOLIC IN NATURE. THEY ARE TANGIBLE REMINDERS OF A BATTLE FOR LIBERTY THAT BEGAN IN A COUNTRY HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD 8½ MONTHS AGO. THEY STAND SOLITARY BEFORE US AS EVIDENCE THAT THE COST OF FREEDOM HAS NEVER BEEN FREE…IT IS BOUGHT WITH THE CURRENCY OF LIFE…IT IS BOUGHT WITH THE LIVES OF HUSBANDS…OF FATHERS…OF SONS…OF GRANDSONS…OF FRIENDS…IT IS BOUGHT WITH THE HARD CASH OF OUR NATION’S MARINES!

    EACH OF OUR FALLEN BROTHERS BEGAN A JOURNEY TO DESTINY MANY YEARS AGO. IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT ANY OF THEM SET OUT TO BE MARINES…OR HEROS FOR THAT MATTER. THEY GREW UP IN AMERICA’S BACK YARDS, PLAYED BALL IN VACANT LOTS, AND LEARNED TO DRIVE WHEN THEY WERE 15. THEY CAME FROM AS FAR EAST AS ST. GEORGES, DELAWARE AND AS CLOSE AS SAN MARCOS, CALIFORNIA…THEY CAME FROM FAMILIES AS ETHNICALLY DIVERSE AS THE LOINS OF AMERICA COULD PRODUCE. AS UNIQUE AS EACH OF THEM WERE, ALL FIFTEEN SHARED A COMMON DNA TRAIT…THEY WERE DESTINED TO BE MARINES; IT WAS IN THEIR BIOLOGICAL MAKEUP. WHETHER A LANCE CORPORAL OR A CAPTAIN…WHETHER A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE OR A CITADEL

    GRADUATE… EACH WAS CUT FROM THE SAME BOLT OF CLOTH. WITHIN THE BROTHERHOOD, THEY WERE KNOWN SIMPLY …AS MARINES.

    WHAT CAUSES A MARINE TO WILLFULLY MOVE FORWARD IN BATTLE…DESPITE A VICIOUS ENEMY…IN THE DARK OF NIGHT, DISREGARDING WEATHER CONDITIONS THAT WOULD STOP ANY SANE INDIVIDUAL? THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE…IT IS FEAR…NO…NOT THE FEAR OF INJURY OR DEATH…BUT THE FEAR OF LETTING DOWN A FELLOW MARINE. EACH OF THESE MARINES FOUGHT AND FLEW IN EPIC WEATHER CONDITIONS…AND YET THEY CONTINUED FORWARD. NOT ONE OF THE FIFTEEN SET OUT TO BECOME A HERO. AT THE SUNSET OF THEIR LIVES, THEY SIMPLY WANTED TO BE KNOWN BY THEIR PEERS AS - HAVING BEEN FAITHFUL. - THEIR LOSSES ARE FOREVER SEALED INTO OUR MEMORIES. FROM THE EARLY MORNING HELIBORNE ASSAULT ON THE AL FAW PENINSUAL ON 21 MARCH…TO THE INTENSE FIRE FIGHT ON THE EASTERN OUTSKIRTS OF AN NASARIYAH, AND ALONG HIGHWAY 7 …TO THE UNFORGIVING FLIGHT OPERATIONS INTO AND OUT OF JALIBAH AIR BASE, IRAQI …TO THE LATE NIGHT COBRA FIGHT ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF BAGHDAD IN PREPARATION FOR THE IMPENDING GROUND ASSAULT…TO OUR HELIBORNE RESUPPLY MISSION ALONG THE EUPHRATES RIVER DURING THE MOUNTING HEAT OF THE LATE SPRING …LET THERE BE NO DOUBT IN ANYONE’S MIND…THESE MARINES ARE HEROS. THEY ARE KNOWN THROUGHOUT OUR CORPS AS HAVING REMAINED FAITHFUL UNTIL THE VERY END…THEY GAVE US THEIR LAST FULL MEASURE.

    NONE OF US HAVE DELUDED OURSELVES HERE TODAY…THE LOSS IS REAL…THE PAIN IS PERSISTENT. THERE ARE NO EXPECTATIONS THAT THE MEMORIES WILL FADE IN ANY OF US…WE DON’T WANT THEM TO…WE SIMPLY WILL NOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN. THE SPIRIT AND MEMORIES OF YOUR LOVED ONES LIVES WITHIN EACH OF YOU, AS IT DOES WITH US WHO WERE HONORED TO HAVE SERVED ALONGSIDE OUR FALLEN BROTHERS. THIS CEREMONY AND THE MEMORIAL BRONZE THAT WE ARE ABOUT TO UNVEIL WILL NEVER REPLACE YOUR HUSBAND, YOUR FATHER, YOUR SON…OUR FELLOW MARINE…BUT RATHER IT WILL SERVE AS A PERSISTENT REMINDER THAT THE CURRENCY OF AMERICA’S FREEDOM IS OFTEN THE BLOOD OF ITS YOUNG MARINES.

    THE FIGHTING IS NOT OVER…THERE IS MORE SACRIFICE LEFT ON THE ALTER OF FREEDOM. 40 YEARS AFTER JOHN F. KENNEDY TOOK THE OATH OF OFFICE, PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH ADDRESSED AMERICA AND THE WORLD IN THE WELL OF CONGRESS ON THE NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER 20TH…JUST 9 DAYS AFTER THE TERROISTS STRUCK…YOU REMEMBER THAT NIGHT…THE ENTIRE WORLD LISTENED AS HE SAID…“GREAT HARM HAS BEEN DONE TO US. WE HAVE SUFFERED GREAT LOSS. AND IN OUR GRIEF AND ANGER WE HAVE FOUND OUR MISSION AND OUR MOMENT. FREEDOM AND FEAR ARE AT WAR…OUR NATION…THIS GENERATION…WILL LIFT A DARK THREAT OF VIOLENCE FROM OUR PEOPLE AND OUR FUTURE. WE WILL RALLY THE WORLD TO THIS CAUSE BY OUR EFFORTS AND BY OUR COURAGE….WE WILL NOT TIRE, WE WILL NOT FALTER, AND WE WILL NOT FAIL.”…OUR COUNTRY NEEDS ITS MARINES NOW MORE THAN EVER. TO THE FAMILY MEMBERS HERE WITH US TODAY…THE MARINES ARE GOING BACK INTO IRAQ…WE ARE GOING TO FINISH THE WORK THAT YOUR LOVED ONES BEGAN.

    GOD BLESS YOU EACH OF YOU…OUR COUNTRY…AND GOD BLESS ITS MARINES….SEMPER FIDELIS.
    3rd MAW
    Alan H. Barbour, Historian
    USMC Combat Helicopter Assoc
    SAEPE EXPERTUS, SEMPER FIDELIS, FRATRES AETERNI
    "Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"
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