News: Marine leaders, Sgt. Dakota Meyer visit RC Southwest
Story by Cpl. Austin Long
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrett visited Marines and sailors with Regional Command [Southwest], Dec. 23-26.
Amos was accompanied by his wife, Bonnie Amos, and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer. The four visited Marines and sailors at forward operating bases throughout Helmand province to celebrate the holiday season.
“We came out to spend Christmas with you,” said Amos, while talking to Marines at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. “It’s meaningful for [us]. There’s no place on Earth that I’d rather be than here with you.”
Amos said this would be the last Christmas in Afghanistan for most Marines.
“There will probably be less than 200 Marines in Afghanistan by Christmas day next year,” said Amos while talking to Marines gathered at Camp Leatherneck. “This is mine, my wife’s, and Sgt. Maj. Barrett’s last opportunity to be in Afghanistan together with you all for Christmas. If you’re going to be here, we want to be here. I’ll remember this and talk about his for the rest of my life. Thank you for being Marines.”
Bonnie, Barrett, and Meyer also spoke to Marines telling them how proud they are of them and how much they enjoy being with them during the holidays.
“I just want to say thank you,” Bonnie said to a group of Marines from 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. “Thank you for being so great and doing what you do. Don’t forget those loved ones back home that wish you were under their tree right now. Today is Christmas Eve; it’s easy to forget when you’re out here. Don’t forget who loves you and reach out and touch that person today or tomorrow.”
During their visit, Amos and Barrett made a special visit to present two Marines from 1/9 with autographed Kevlar helmets. Cpl. Ian Gorman and Lance Cpl. Indy Johnson were wounded while conducting combat operations Dec. 4. Both Marines were shot in the head, but neither was seriously injured because their helmets deflected the bullets.
Amos decided to give the Marines autographed helmets after an email went viral among Marine Corps leaders regarding a missing and lost gear statement by Gorman.
Gorman’s statement said, ‘I was shot in the helmet by the enemy. I need a new one. I do not desire to reimburse the government.’
Submitting an official statement to replace missing or damaged gear is an administrative formality.
The group visited visited service members at Forward Operating Base Deleram, FOB Shukvani, FOB Dwyer, FOB Shindand, Camp Bastion, and Camp Leatherneck.
The group ended the tour by serving a Christmas dinner to service members at Dining Facility 5 on Camp Leatherneck.