FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Helmand province, Afghanistan – A person would be hard pressed to find an organization with the history and traditions as rich as those of the United States Marine Corps.
One Marine who holds the Corps’ history and traditions especially close to his heart is Cpl. Linton C. Sangster, a 21-year-old native of Cleveland, Ga., and a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist currently serving here with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. Sangster enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008 to uphold a family tradition passed down by his two grandfathers and his great grandfather, Pfc. Linton C. Fendley, who served with 2/6, also known as “The Ready Battalion,” during World War I.
Sangster stumbled upon his family heritage when he was digging through a box of family photos and discovered his great grandfather fought with 2/6 at Belleau Wood, one of the most famous battles in the history of the Marine Corps.
The Battle of Belleau Wood was fought in France in the spring of 1918. During the engagement, Marine forces fought so fiercely that they earned the nickname Teufel Hunden, “Hounds from Hell” or more commonly translated as “Devil Dogs,” from their German adversaries. The battle was eventually won by U.S. forces, but not before the Marines sustained the highest rate of casualties from a single battle until that point in the Corps’ history.
“As I dug deeper I found out that [my great grandfather] was actually hit with mustard gas during the battle,” said Sangster. “I find this ironic because my job is to run Marines through the gas chamber and work with chemical warfare.”
As Sangster researched more he discovered his great grandfather was awarded two purple hearts and a bronze star for his heroic actions at Belleau Wood. While Sangster can’t boast quite the same collection of heroic awards, he served with 2/6 through the battle for Marjah district. Marjah, Nawa district’s western neighbor, was once considered and insurgent stronghold before Afghan and coalition forces began Operation Moshtarak in early 2010. Nearly two years later, enough progress has been made in Marjah and Nawa to transfer lead security responsibility of the districts to Afghan forces and the Afghan government.
“From Belleau Wood to Marjah, 2/6 has been ready to fight since 1917,” said Sgt. Maj. William Frye, the 2/6 sergeant major. “We used that saying during the battle of Marjah…I’m sure it has deeper impact with Sangster given his family history.”
Today, Sangster and his fellow Marines and sailors in 2/6 wear a reminder of this shared family and unit history on their dress and service uniforms.
Following their heroism at Belleau Wood, the Marines of 5th and 6th Marine Regiments were awarded the French Fourragere for their actions during the battle. Now nearly a century later, Sangster has the privilege of wearing the fourragere once earned by his great grandfather and the Marines who served alongside him.
“My great grandfather earned the fourragere and I get to wear it,” said Sangster. “Wearing that award on my uniform means so much more to me; I feel like 2/6 is where I was meant to be.”
While every Marine walks tall with the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on his chest, Sangster believes he walks even taller because of his family history.
“Since I’ve been in the Marine Corps I’ve never seen a story like this,” said Frye. “Cpl. Sangster has a lot to live up to, and gets to hold his head a little higher than everybody else knowing a member of his family earned the fourragere.”
Sangster has not decided whether to make a career of the Marine Corps or to move on after he completes his initial enlistment. For now, he carries himself with pride knowing his family and unit history are one in the same.
“Here at 2/6 we never forget the Marines who have gone before us,” said Frye. “Sangster and his family are part of that tradition.”
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
||FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, HELMAND PROVINCE, AF
This work, Great grandfather earns the French Fourragere, great grandson wears it, by Cpl Johnny Merkley, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.