MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Family members, friends, Marines and sailors gathered to remember five Marines and one sailor with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, at a memorial service aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune N.C., March 12, 2010. The Marines and sailor paid the ultimate sacrifice during combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Sir, 137 men present for duty,” reported 1st Sgt. Deron W. Joplin, company first sergeant with Delta Company, 2nd LAR, as a crowd of teary-eyed supporters observed the ceremony. “Six men have fallen and are no longer with us. Master Sgt. Jerome D. Hatfield, killed in action, 11 July 2009, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Pedro A. Barbozaflores, killed in action, 11 July 2009, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Sgt. Ryan H. Lane, killed in action, 23 July 2009, Helmand Province Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Fowlkes, 10 September 2009, succumbed to injuries sustained in combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. HM3 (hospital corpsman) Benjamin P. Castiglione, killed in action, 3 September 2009, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Baltazar, Jr. killed in action, 3 September 2009, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.”
The clouds rumbled and a steady rainfall erupted once the memorial service began, as if the heavens recognized the fallen warriors and shed tears with the crowd of on-looking supporters.
“These men we honor today all showed us the greatest love and leave us an example that touches us deeply which we can all emulate,” said Capt. Ray Rivers, Chaplin for 2nd LAR.
During the memorial service, service members who served alongside these men were given a chance to pay their respects. One after another, fellow comrades wept at the podium, describing the men in intimate details; characteristics that showed each man as a special individual.
Rivers emphatically stated that no words could ever replace the men who had fallen. Rivers also gave his personal opinion on how each man had a positive impact on fellow service members and everyone who they had come in contact with during their lives.
“These men sacrificed all for their family, friends, fellow warriors and country, as well as those we were sent to help bring freedom to,” said Rivers, holding back tears of grief. “Their examples inspire us, yet their losses leave us grieving and can seem overwhelming.”
Rivers’ heartfelt words provided some comfort to the mourners as he expounded upon his personal beliefs, and how those personal beliefs applied to the men who made a difference in so many lives.
“I believe that it was God’s love that enabled these men to live life so sacrificially and love well,” said Rivers. “This love beckons us to receive it through faith in God and live passing this sacrificial love to others, to honor their memory.”
The song, “Amazing Grace,” resounded over the steady drizzle, bringing the memorial service to an end. Close by, a group of Marines stood at attention waiting for the command to perform a 21-gun salute.
“Honor the fallen,” said Capt. Earlie H. Walkers Jr, company commander of Delta Company, 2nd LAR, to a rifle detail.
The detail raised their rifles and fired rounds into the sky, giving the fallen warriors a final and honorable farewell.
“God can help us live day-to-day and help us remember these heroes’ sacrifices,” said Rivers. “Their examples can guide us to live our lives to the fullest as we honor them. They lived life to the fullest and died so that we can live.”