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Remembering the lost, honoring their lives

1 Mar 2007 | Cpl. A.L. Genos

The memorial ceremony started with everyone taking their seats as music played and pictures of the fallen Marines were displayed.

Family members, fellow Marines and friends all gathered together to honor the heroes from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, in a ceremony at the Goettege Field House, March 1.

“It is these Marines who fell at our sides who have emerged as true heroes in this struggle,” explained Lt. Col. Kenneth M. DeTreux, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.  “Because we who have given so much find our contributions rendered so insignificant in the face of the sacrifices that these men have made.”

Eight Marines were honored and memorialized during the ceremony for the ultimate sacrifice they and their families have made for this country. Scriptures were read and friends spoke to the families on behalf of each Marine.

“They willingly took an oath before the Lord to protect and defend our country, yet they served for you and for me,” explained Navy Lt. Cmdr. Shannon D. Skidmore, the battalion’s chaplain.

Families of the fallen had a chance to hear about their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands, as DeTreux, Skidmore and fellow Marines came forward to speak about their brothers-in-arms. Listening to the speakers brought tears to the eyes of the family members and fellow Marines in attendance.

“What they did, they did willingly.  We must never forget such men who when called upon, sacrificed their lives on the field of battle,” Skidmore solemnly stated.

Each Marine who gave his life died a hero and will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew them and those who he protected.

“We in this field house left for Iraq together and returned home, a privilege we did not earn but was purchased for us with the blood of our wounded and fallen,” DeTreux stated.  “It is their heroism that upholds all of our Marine Corps heritage.”

Many of the fallen Marines joined after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. They were among the men and women who decided to fight for everyone’s freedom and do their part for their country.

“Each one of us has chosen a road less traveled, a road many Americans are unwilling or unable to take, a road where we unselfishly serve our nation enduring the hardships and sacrifices in defense of her freedom and justice,” DeTreux said.

The Marines honored in the ceremony were Lance Cpl.’s John E. Hale, James D. Hirlston, Stephen F. Johnson, Howard S. March, Niklas J. Palmer; Cpl.’s Bradford H. Payne, Nicholas P. Rapavi and Sgt. Michael M. Kashkoush.

The 40th U.S. President Ronald Regan once said, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.”