MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE N.C. --
Vietnam veterans from various infantry battalions gathered for a reunion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 7, 2011. During their visit, the gentlemen were familiarized with the HMMWV (humvee) and M777 Howitzer by junior Marines.
When it was time for the display of equipment, the former Marines jumped at the opportunity to interact with the junior enlisted.
Cpl. Richard M. Stewart, assistant howitzer chief, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, was present to answer any questions about the weapon systems and interact with the former Marines who had come to Lejeune for the reunion.
“It was a really motivating experience for me,” said Stewart. “I’m a third generation Marine and I really enjoyed meeting the old veterans because it lets me know about the Marines before me. I think it’s extremely important for things like this to occur. The Marine Corps bases so much of itself off of its history; this is history right in front of your face – Iwo Jima veterans letting you know about their life in the Corps.”
One retired sergeant major with silver hair and a twinkle to his eye, spoke of the past and present of the Marine Corps.
“I have worked with some phenomenal Marines. Our platoon sergeants that we had back in the days were all World War II veterans and they trained us well. There’s no doubt in my military mind it saved my bacon several times in Vietnam,” said Lew Izard. “You talk to each of these guys and you can get a story of how they feel and what they did and how they contributed. Some of them were machine gunners, some of them were mortarmen, some of them were squad leaders – I’ve served in all of those billets and I had a ball doing it.”
Numerous junior Marines laughed and appeared fascinated at what the veterans had to say.
“There have been dramatic and great changes in the Corps,” said Izard. “These Marines have continued to carry on the legacy that’s left by former Marines and just make it better. There’s no other military force in the world that can hold a candle to our corps. I’m pretty proud of that.”
As the veterans boarded their buses to leave, it was evident the engagement filled the Marines like Stewart with pride and motivation to continue the legacy of the Corps.
“Hearing their stories – how it was for them in the Marines and hearing how proud they were of how we conduct ourselves nowadays, stood out to me the most,” said Stewart. “To be honest I think it’s one of the best sources of motivation a young marine can get. I think they should do this more often.”