MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, HI, UNITED STATES
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii -- Behind a giant white banner bearing the phrase, “To honor their blood… with our sweat,” the morning sun shone brightly off a row of 116 dog tags displayed outside the 3rd Marine Regiment headquarters building on Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
The aluminum dog tags were displayed in memory of 116 Marines and sailors from each of the units under 3rd Marine Regiment. Over the course of the regiment’s 15 combat deployments in support of overseas contingency operations, these men made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and brothers-in-arms.
3rd Marine Regiment honored them during a Fallen Heroes Run here, Dec. 14 and 15.
Before the memorial run began Tuesday, Dec. 14, Col. James Bierman, commanding officer, 3rd Marine Regiment, called his Marines to gather around him.
“These men were forged from the same steel as those who crossed through the woods at Belleau Wood, landed on Iwo Jima, and fought in Korea and Vietnam,” Bierman said. “They are the heroes of our regiment, and the heroes of the Marine Corps.”
The regiment’s first combat casualty during these operations was Lance Cpl. Jeremy Bow, a machine gunner with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. He was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, Oct. 30, 2004.
After Bow, 115 Marines and sailors have died in the cities of western Iraq, the mountains of northeast Afghanistan and river valleys of the Helmand province, and hospitals in Bethesda, Md., and Landstuhl, Germany, Bierman said.
“These Marines and sailors didn’t go to Iraq and Afghanistan to die, but when push came to shove — in critical seconds and at critical moments — they gave their lives for their buddies,” Bierman said.
As the regimental battle colors were passed to the first runners, a bell tolled and a Marine read off Bow’s name as those present stood at the position of attention. A lone dog tag stamped with the Marine’s name, date killed in action, and unit, signified the fallen Marine’s memory as it hung around the neck of one of the runners.
From then on, teams of at least two Marines or sailors in combat boots and camouflage trousers carried the regimental battle colors and ran a 2-mile evolution 116 times — one for each fallen hero. The route took them from the 3rd Marine Regiment headquarters building to the Pacific War Memorial and back.
“Every time we do a memorial run, we’re honoring the memory of the Marines and sailors who went before us,” said Staff Sgt. Mark American Horse, training and operations staff non-commissioned officer, 1/3. “It reminds us of what we have to live up to.”
While the Tulsa, Okla., native’s run was dedicated to his friend, Lance Cpl. Darrell Schumann, a machine gunner with 1/3, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Ar Rutbah, Iraq, Jan. 6, 2005, American Horse said he was there for all the Marines he served with who didn’t return home.
Sgt. Christian Orellana, remain behind element, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, said the physically-challenging memorial run was an excellent way to symbolize what the 116 Marines and sailors sacrificed. But he urged people to remember the fallen and not take things for granted.
“Once the sign comes down, a lot of people will forget what happened,” said Orellana, from Monterey, Calif. “We’re in garrison and don’t have much to worry about, but the Marines and sailors who died don’t have that luxury anymore. This is a reality check.”
The regiment’s most recent casualty, 1st Lt. Scott Fleming, a platoon commander with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, was the last Marine honored during the memorial run. He was killed, Sept. 17, in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
“These 116 heroes have shown us the way,” Bierman said. “There is no doubt in my mind that as time goes on, these Marines will be watching over us.”
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