MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Like many of their brothers-in-arms wounded in the line of duty, 17 Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, stoically accepted their fate while looking to the future with hopeful eyes.
During a mass ceremony, the Marines were presented the Purple Heart here April 14 for wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in various parts of Iraq.
“We are focusing on our leaders and bringing in the new Marines during this transition period,” Lt. Col. J. J. Minick, the battalion commander said. “We are going to be right back into things, making our feet strong, our hearts strong and our minds strong.”
The award recipients were:
Staff Sgt. Patrick A. Gomes Jr., Bronx, N.Y.,
Staff Sgt. Jack E. Wilde, Salix, Pa.,
Cpl. Jose M. Hernandez, Biscoe, N.C.,
Cpl. Daniel R. Dunnam, Columbus, Miss.,
Cpl. Aaron M. Shareneo, Orchard Park, N.Y.,
Cpl. Cory E. Mehringer, Gillette, Wyo.,
Lance Cpl. Shawn A. Hayes, Rockford, Ill.,
Lance Cpl. Armand J. Anderson, St. Augustine, Fla.,
Lance Cpl. Christopher T. Kerkhoff, Mansfield, Mass.,
Lance Cpl. Christopher L. Gralewski, Chapel Hill, N.C.,
Lance Cpl. Ryan B. Burgess, Akron, Ohio,
Lance Cpl. David L. Sepulredo, Zwolle, La.,
Lance Cpl. Robert Burke II, Reading, Pa.,
Lance Cpl. Michael S. Damroze, Olmsted Falls, Ohio,
Lance Cpl. Nathan F. Lane, Rochester, N.Y.,
Lance Cpl. Wally Y. Wong, Wantagh, N.Y.,
Lance Cpl. Reynier Perez, Miami, Fla.
“The Purple Heart is the one award a battalion commander never wants to award his Marines or sailors, but it means a lot,” Minick said.
The Marines received their wounds during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of the Marines will return to continue fighting the Global War on Terrorism.
Minick finished the ceremony by addressing the Marines directly.
“The rest of your life you will have the taste and appreciation of what freedom truly means.”