News: Trails dedicated to the heroism of Marines from Fallujah, Sangin and Kunar
Story by Sgt. Christopher Zahn
QUANTICO, Va. - When prospective lieutenants report to Officer Candidates School, they spend months eating, sleeping, sweating and bleeding surrounded by the storied history of the institution with streets, buildings, and even trails named after famous battles and Marines.
OCS took another step in recognizing the valor of Marines from the recent past by renaming three of its trails in honor of those who fought in some of the Corps’ bloodiest battles over the last 11 years of war. The Sangin, Kunar, and Fallujah trails will test candidates to live up to the example of Marines who fought there.
“These names mean something,” said Col. Kris Stillings, OCS commanding officer. “It’s only fitting that from this point on, candidates will run on them, hike on them, at times there will be tears on them, just like the places they are named after.”
The trail dedication ceremony featured one of the many heroic Marines who fought in Kunar Province, Capt. Ademola Fabayo, who was decorated with the Navy Cross for his actions during the Battle of Ganjgal. While serving as an advisor with Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Fabayo and his team were ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters, and four Marines were cut off by the murderous fire. Fabayo and his team repeatedly advanced back into the kill zone, with no regard for their own safety, to try and save their fellow Marines.
“He exemplifies everything that we are trying to teach you here,” said Stillings to the assembled crowd of candidates. “Leadership, courage under fire, decisiveness and the ability to always look after your Marines – he exemplified those things.”
For Fabayo, who is currently serving as a staff platoon commander at The Basic School, the ceremony brought back his own memories of running the trails at OCS.
“I remember as a student, stopping on the trail and reading the citations, like the one behind you of [Sgt.] Dakota Meyer, and learning all the things that Marines have done, what we stand for, what we believe in – the things that you’re going to be expected to do in the next few months to lead Marines like Meyer,” Fabayo said. “We never forget the leadership that’s required of you, that’s required of us, as leaders of Marines.”