HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Men and women of America have been honoring those who die on her battlefield since Arlington National Cemetery was built after the Civil War, but few understand that honor better than the Marines.
“Amazing Grace” played, seven guns fired three volleys into the distance, and ‘Taps’ sounded in a ceremony to honor three Marines who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country: Cpl. Michael Bailey, Cpl. Kevin Cueto, and Cpl. Claudio Patino IV.
“These men fought hard; these men fought bravely,” said Lt. Col. Clay Tipton, battalion commander of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “We will set aside today to mourn them and then we will drive on from here.”
The commander’s words were about more than mourning their loss; they were about honoring their sacrifice.
“Press on and make these three Marines proud,” Tipton urged his Marines. “Make them proud of your resiliency and proud of your actions.”
The words of those who knew the fallen warriors showed their pride in the sacrifice.
“There is an old saying that the key to immortality is living a life that will never be forgotten,” said Cpt. Carin Calvin, Weapons Company Commander, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines. “These Marines will not be forgotten.”
Each Marine who spoke of his comrades said they died doing what they love and protecting the Marines around them.
“These men were protecting their men just as Psalms 23 says God protects us,” said Navy Lt. Terry Moran, battalion chaplain for 3rd Bn., 7th Marines.
The ceremony was drawn to a close as battalion Sgt. Maj. Troy Black called the names of the fallen Marines, receiving no answer, a tradition that dates back to before the Civil War when units would call roll after a battle.
“Honor the dead!” were Black’s chilling final words before a 21-gun salute and ‘Taps’ played.
The Marines saluted, prayed, and even lost a few tears remembering their brothers, but their mission continues.
“We still have challenging times ahead of us,” Tipton said. “But we will use the memory of these men to push us to fight on.”
||HELMAND PROVINCE, AF
This work, Honoring the fallen, remembering their sacrifice, by LCpl Ned Johnson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.