News: 1/1 Marines past, present celebrate command post dedication ceremony
Story by Sgt. Christopher O'Quin
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – On the 66th anniversary of the battle at Peleliu and the 60th anniversary of their landing at Inchon, the Marines and sailors of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, joined in celebrating the dedication of their new command post building aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 15.
The ceremony also commemorated the sacrifices every Marine and sailor has made while serving with the battalion.
“I’d seen the old [command post] many times and this was a badly needed improvement,” said Tim Sloat, who served with BLT 1/1 during the Vietnam War. “They’re going to add to it and get more memorabilia as time goes on. I’m really looking forward to seeing 1/1 make the headlines when they deploy soon. We follow the battalion pretty closely.”
Marines from the battalion read Medal of Honor citations for six Marines who went beyond the call of duty while serving with 1/1. The Marines also showcased their current arsenal of weapons to visitors.
“It was cool to see all the veterans and the Marines who served alongside 1/1,” said Cpl. Jamel Matin, a company clerk with BLT 1/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “The Marines here of course supported the ceremony in any way they could. The battalion honors its own.”
Taps played as Sloat and Marty Vasquez, president of the Southern California Chapter, 1st Marine Division Association, laid a wreath on a memorial display, honoring those with 1/1 who gave their lives in service of country and Corps, concluding the ceremony.
The attendees toured the new command post after the ceremony revealing the history of the unit from World War II through present day. Images taken during the battle at Peleliu adorn the unit’s conference room. Uniform items once worn by Marines more than 50 years ago are displayed inside the command deck.
“One of the beauties of what we got going here is a lot of the stuff you will see on the walls and down the hall have been donated by the National Marine Corps Museum and the Marine Corps Association,” said Lt. Col. Craig Wonson, the commanding officer of BLT 1/1, 13th MEU. “Leatherneck and the 1st Marine Division Association were very supportive in getting all those pictures on the wall. Practically everyone in the Marine Corps has jumped on this and asked ‘How can we help you’.”
Capt. Bryan E. Stotts, the base Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer with Headquarters and Service Company, H&S Battalion, donated uniform items and memorabilia to help add to the historic displays.
“When I heard that it motivated me to go through my closet and find my extra stuff,” said Stotts, who collects vintage weapons, uniforms and other military equipment. “We’ve also got weapons such as the Model 1897 Trench Guns, the Japanese Type 14 pistol and many others on display for today’s ceremony.”
Stotts further added how significant this day is to the battalion and the Marines.
“Having been with 1st Marine Regiment for several years and going on deployments with 1/1, and coming and picking up from one building and moving into another building, it kind of annoyed me that none of the Marines really had a tie in what their unit was, their unit history,” said Stotts. “Finding that Horno was finally dedicating buildings to battalions made me so happy. If you go to Great Britain or anywhere in Europe, and you visit a Royal Marine unit, they’ll have cracked enemy weapons, uniforms from their regiment dating back to the 1600’s and old flags. You’ll walk through and it looks like you are walking through a museum, almost like you are walking through the Imperial War Museum and they’re very, very proud of that. They don’t have anything like that here. I think one of the reasons why is because the Marine Corps is so expeditionary we lose the stuff we have, we pick up move out of a building, deploy somewhere else, come back we’re going into a new building with new people and we don’t appreciate what we have historic wise, in one spot. Having a place where Marines can always call home here at 1/1 I think is outstanding.”
As generations of Marines from 1/1 add to its storied history, they will have a place to show the honor and dedication to all who walk its halls. They will have more history to add to the command post’s walls when they return from their follow on deployments as the first of the first.