MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- “Personnel to be awarded, center…march,” commanded the 2nd Tank Battalion’s commanding officer.
Sergeant Kevin M. Lowe, a Smithsburg, Md., native, platoon sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Tank Battalion marched two sergeants forward to receive their Tankers of the Year awards.
With a cool breeze in the air, the 1999 Smithsburg High School Graduate, and the two others made a right facing movement, placing them at the position of attention, presented a hand salute, cutting it crisply after the officer returned his salute.
“I was honored to know that they thought of me as a Marine who deserved the award,” said the former all-star athlete who played football, basketball and baseball in high school.
Excelling in sports during his high school years, he was dedicated to his purpose when practicing and playing sports. That same dedication and efforts put forth by Lowe during his years as an athlete, has helped him become a great leader and outstanding Marine.
All of those attending the ceremony listened to a citation explaining the actions the three sergeants took and why they were chosen to receive the award while they were presented with the awards. These three Marines were chosen from among 735 other Marines and sailors who make up 2nd Tank Bn.
Lowe, along with many other Marines from the battalion were deployed in the first stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They started in Kuwait and made their way through large-scale firefights as they entered Iraq for the first time. Lowe and the other tankers from the battalion kept their bearing as rounds impacted on and close to their tanks.
Facing many struggles while moving up through Kuwait and Iraq, the three sergeants were a part of the first wave of Marines into Bahgdad. Lowe’s crew along with the many others banded together to defeat the enemy as they faced the first of many attacks from the Iraqis.
He was able to complete the mission looking adversity in the face and overcoming tough situations with the help of his Marines under his command.
“We had many tanks and weapons systems that entered into Iraq during the first phase of the war,” said the 2nd Marine Division Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for 2003.
Once presented with the awards, Lowe and the other two gave a salute, faced left, and marched to the rear of the formation.
Everyone in attendance congratulated the Marines, then Lowe and the others all gathered together to take pictures with friends and family as the ceremony came to a close.
Lowe was selected by The Tankers Association, which is made up of many gray haired former tankers. They were gathered together from all over the United States. The men who usually display their red Marine Corps jackets with patches showing where they have been and what they have done, came together to present the awards at the 20th Annual Tanker of the Year Award ceremony.
“It was a great honor to be recognized by the Tankers Association just for doing my job,” Lowe commented.
Prior to choosing Lowe and the other Marines for the Tanker of the Year Award, members of the association deliberated over who deserved recognition. Lowe was happy to find out he was chosen.
As he walked around, conversing with the former Marines about his experiences as a tanker, Lowe found himself surrounded by people who knew what he did and how important it really was.
During the annual visit from the Tankers Association, Lowe and many other Marines from the battalion interacted with the former Marines. He spent time explaining the different functions and general operations of the current model of tanks. He was able to take time to talk to the older former Marines and bring them up to speed on what was happening with the new tanks and how they worked.
“We had the entire day to spend with the Tankers as they looked at our equipment comparing it to what they use to use,” Lowe said.
Lowe also spent time with the Marines as they told “sea stories” from their time in the Corps. Listening to the men speak with enthusiasm about their journeys, Lowe and his fellow Marines took in as much as they could and learned from the knowledge that was passed on to them.
After taking time to look at the static display, Lowe and many other Marines took everyone up to the safety tower to view a live-fire display of the tanks firing on fixed and moving targets. Lowe, along with others, explained what was happening, how the tanks were moving, why the tanks shot at certain targets and what types of ammunition was used in practice compared to combat situations.
Many of the former Marines were not familiar with the new technology the Corps was using in its tanks. This offered Lowe and others a chance to help explain and teach the old “Devil Dogs” the new tricks of the trade.
“During the time we had to spend talking with the former tankers, we were able to bring them up-to-speed on our operations,” Lowe said.
After viewing the live-fire exercise, more stories were shared. Lowe and the other award winners accompanied their battalion and the Tankers Association to lunch back at a mess hall where more friendly conversation took place.
With the 20th annual gathering for the awarding of the Tankers of the Year, many stories were swapped and laughter was spread all around. Knowledge and life lessons were passed to young Marines like Lowe in hopes that one day they will be coming back to visit and share their experiences.