News: Marine Raider Association hosts reunion in San Diego, Calif.
Story by Cpl. Donovan Lee
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The Marine Raider Association held its annual Marine Raider Reunion Aug. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif., to reunite, share stories, and pay homage to their fellow comrades who are no longer with them.
During the reunion, attendees visited Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and Naval Base Coronado, where they viewed static displays of military vehicles and weapons in operation today, witnessed rappelling demonstrations, and attended a Marine Corps recruit training graduation ceremony.
The Marine Raiders were established during WWII as the first special operations force in the Marine Corps. They were tasked with spearheading large amphibious landings and conducting raid and reconnaissance patrols behind enemy lines.
“We were one of the first special forces units in the U.S. Military,” said Charles Meacham, a WWII Marine Raider. “Every day was something new; we had to be on our toes and ready for anything at a moment’s notice.”
The WWII Marine Raiders unit was an all-volunteer force and its members were hand selected from units throughout the Marine Corps.
“The types of things that these men were going to have to do required them to have moral and physical courage and toughness, as well as advanced specialized training,” said Pete Owen, a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel and historian, who also attended the reunion.
This year’s reunion took place soon after the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos announced the reflagging and renaming of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command subordinate elements as Marine Raider elements.
“The United States Marines take great pride in our special operations and irregular warfare heritage; an aspect of our corps that has been recast over time to meet the ever changing need of our nation,” declared Amos in the proclamation released Aug. 6.
The Raiders concluded the Reunion with a banquet, during which they unveiled a bronze statue that will be held at the Marine Corps Museum aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. The statue depicts Marine Raiders on patrol in dense jungle and island brush. A Marine Raider leads the patrol, followed by a Raider dog handler and a Navajo code talker. In the background are four more Marine Raiders participating in the patrol.
“This statue, ‘Soul of the Forward and Faithful,’ captures a brief moment in Nov. 1943, during an infiltration mission,” said Mardie Rees, the statues sculptor. “As I molded this statue it became apparent that the most important thing to capture was what they (Raiders) carried within; their bravery, courage, resolve and strength.”
Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commander of MARSOC, offered his words during the banquet.
“As I go through and get the chance to meet and talk to all of the Raiders here tonight, I’m reminded of our history and who we are as Marines,” said Osterman. “They are the proud legacy we try to emulate; and our heroes.”