News: 2/5 Marines, sailors honor fallen brethren aboard Camp Pendleton
Story by Sgt. Alfred V. Lopez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A calm breeze usually sweeps through the air at the Camp San Mateo helicopter landing zone, amidst the training exercises usually conducted here.
Today there will be no explosions from bombs or cracks of gunfire heard here, because training was redirected or put on hold. As Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, pause for a moment of silence to remember their fallen brethren, the breeze was absent, making it seem as though even nature was paying respects to the fallen.
The silence was part of the memorial ceremony hosted by 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, here, Sept. 28, a ceremony dedicated to Sgt. Wade D. Wilson, from Webster, Texas, Cpls. Alex Martinez, a native of Elgin, Ill., and Anthony R. Servin, from Riverside, Calif., and Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Witsman, a native of Danville, Ill. The four Marines lost their lives in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“This memorial ceremony is an opportunity, after returning from seven months of combat, to remember those who did not return with us,” said Lt. Col. Jason S. Perry, the commanding officer of 2nd Bn., 5th Marines. “It’s an opportunity to remember their lives, their sacrifice – and to dedicate ourselves to living a life that will honor their memories.”
After a detail of Marines erected a battlefield cross for the fallen, Wilson, Martinez, Servin and Witsman, were each honored by a fellow Marine who shared a eulogy with their family and friends in attendance.
“He did it all with excellence…”
Wilson joined the Marine Corps in June 2007. Upon graduating recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and the School of Infantry West, he received orders and reported to 3rd Bn., 1st Marines.
Wilson deployed to Okinawa, Japan with 3rd Bn., 1st Marines as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from July 2008 to January 2009. In April 2010, he deployed to southern Helmand Province with 3rd Bn., 1st Marines, where he led over 150 patrols.
“Sergeant Wade Wilson was the epitome of the Marine [noncommissioned officer],” said Capt. Nathan A Fleischaker, the company commander of Weapons Company, 2nd Bn., 5th Marines. “He was unanimously respected throughout the company, and his technical skill and dedication, was obvious to everyone.”
“Whether it was escorting family members during Jane Wayne Day, leading patrols or slinging lead during a gunfight, Wilson did it all with excellence,” explained Fleishaker. “Thinking about his example inspires me to be a better Marine.”
“Everyone felt safe around him…”
Martinez reported to MCRD San Diego in January 2009. After completion of recruit training, Marine Combat Training at SOI West, and Marine Corps Engineer School at MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C., Martinez reported for duty to Charlie Co., 1st Combat Engineer Battalion.
From September 2010 to April 2011, Martinez deployed to Sangin District, Afghanistan, in support of Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. He kept Marines and sailors safe during the deployment by sweeping and clearing safe paths through over 100 patrols, and he personally discovered 18 improvised explosive devices.
“[Martinez] was very quiet and reserved on his first night with us,” said Cpl. Brandon Grodzki, an infantryman who served with Martinez. “But he immediately meshed in with us. He didn’t only fit in at a personal level, but he also fit in professionally.”
“He was a natural leader and he proved it every day,” added Grodzki. “He made everyone around him feel a remarkable sense of security.”
“His work ethic was unparalleled…”
Upon completion of recruit training at MCRD San Diego on Dec. 2008, Servin attended MCT at SOI West and Marine Corps Communication School in Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Calif.
After reporting to 3rd Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa on November 2009, Servin deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. He participated in Operations Balikatan 2010 and 2011, Operation Cobra Gold 2010, and Operation Tomadachi. Servin received orders to 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, and reported in October 2011.
“The second you met Servin, you would notice his grand, endearing smile,” said 1st Lt. John D. Black, a communications platoon commander with 2nd. Bn., 5th Marines. “No matter how hard of a day he was having, he always made an effort to make somebody else smile and laugh.”
“No matter how much he was challenged, he always surpassed expectations,” explained Black. “His work ethic was unparalleled. No matter how long of a day he had, or how late at night it was – you can always find a red light on Servin as he worked throughout the night, fixing radios and making sure frequencies are correct.”
“The younger Marines sought his experience…”
Witsman joined the Marine Corps in February 2009. After graduating from MCRD San Diego, he completed SOI West and reported to Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. He was deployed from October 2010 to April 2011 with Lima Co., and his experience from his previous deployment proved to be an invaluable asset to his fellow Marines and sailors at 2nd. Bn., 5th Marines.
“The younger Marines instinctively recognized his ability and sought his experience,” said Fleischaker.
“His previous experience made him exceptionally valuable to the company,” explained Fleischaker. “He was immediately known to his platoon as a great mentor who shares his experience to those who have yet to deploy to Afghanistan.”
As the battalion Sgt. Maj. called the Marines’ names for the honorary roll call, the fallen Marine’s fellow warriors, family members and friends, didn’t hear their voices, familiar to many of them for the firmness with which they gave orders, or for the laughter they shared. Instead, they stood in silence, remembering them as leaders, friends and brothers.