MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A group of former Marines stood over a grill full of hamburgers and hot dogs watching the meat slowly cook despite the cold winter wind. Each reminisced of times past and how things were when they were in the Corps.
The Second Marine Division Association hosted a picnic here recently, in honor of the division’s wounded warriors, Purple Heart recipients and their families.
“This picnic is our way of saying ‘Thank you,’ for your service to the Corps and your country,” said Peter Grimes, the executive director for the SMDA.
The timing of the event was well planned, taking account several factors which would affect the turnout.
“With the winter holidays fast approaching, as well us upcoming deployments for division units in the next few months, it only made sense to host this event now,” Grimes explained. “We were glad the national staff for Second Marine Division Association not only approved this event, they asked for it.”
Although the wounded warriors and Purple Heart recipients within division were the guests of honor for the picnic, other noteworthy guests were also on hand to show their support.
Mac McGee, commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, worked alongside members of his chapter as they cooked for the event.
Brig. Gen. Mark Gurganus, the assistant division commander, 2nd Marine Division along with Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the division sergeant major, spoke one-on-one with the Marines in attendance.
“This picnic offers SMDA a chance to show division Marines what it means to be part of the association,” Battaglia said. “Just as my generation has continued the legacy of the 2nd Marine Division, we are now looking for these younger Marines to help carry on the legacy and ‘Follow me,’ the motto for the division.”
The picnic started at noon and continued on until 4 p.m. All the makings of a cookout lunch, including drinks, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and potato salad, ensured no one left without enjoying a tasty meal.
Marines, young and old, exchanged stories of how they were wounded in action, some showing off old war wounds and scars. As the day drew to an end, the men found a common bond, not just as Marines, but as wounded warriors who fought on to live another day.