MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE N.C. --
Marines and sailors of 2nd Marine Division came together to commemorate the Follow Me Division’s 71st birthday celebration alongside the Veterans of the Second Marine Division Association aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 2-3.
The two-day celebration brought Marines and sailors, both new and old, together during a number of special events which allowed SMDA members a closer look into the training and traditions still upheld in today’s Marine Corps. The celebration was kicked off as SMDA members were given the opportunity to take part in the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer and receive a first hand look at active duty Marines undergoing training in the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer.
“The simulator was terrific,” said Bob Quinn, a member of SMDA. “There were a lot of weapons that were new to me and I had a lot of fun firing them. I think it’s great to have this simulator, because you’re not using up a lot of ammo while training.”
Throughout the celebration, the SMDA members were escorted by active duty Marines and sailors, who were more than happy to listen to the veteran’s stories and possibly share some of their own.
“I’m excited about being an escort during the birthday celebrations, it’s definitely a privilege,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Baker, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “We talk about Marines, heroes and modern day warriors and it all leads back to these men right here, who actually laid the road work down for us. I had a chance to speak to a Marine who actually fought at Tarawa, it was simply awe inspiring.”
A reception was held for the SMDA members following the first day’s events. The reception was intended to give the members a chance to enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of their active duty brothers and sisters-in-arms. During the reception, Sergeant Majors throughout the division took the time to share their battalion’s continued strides to uphold the high standards which have been set by the veterans of the 2nd Marine Division.
“It makes me proud to be amongst all of these young warriors,” said Quinn. “I enjoy being able to talk to them and let them know how proud of them I am. I really think today’s Marine Corps is really an outstanding organization, because of these Marines.”
The second day of the birthday celebration focused on remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as honoring the lineage, heritage and accomplishments they helped the division achieve. The day began with a memorial service which was followed by a battle streamer rededication.
During the memorial service the 2nd Marine Division’s acting commanding officer spoke on the triumph and nobleness demonstrated by those who made the ultimate sacrifice which the division has built it’s foundations upon.
“On February first, 1941, our division was designated from 2nd Marine Brigade to 2nd Marine Division,” said Brigadier General W. Lee Miller Jr., commanding officer of 2nd Marine Division (acting). “From then, on to present day our Marines and sailors have answered our nations call for service with honor and distinction. From Iceland in the North Atlantic to Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Okinawa in South Pacific to Lebanon, Panama, Bosnia, Iraq and today in Afghanistan, we Marines of the follow me division have held the line from those who try to prey on the weak. For 71 years you have served as our nation’s precision instrument of peace and justice.”
After the memorial services conclusion, those in attendance made their way to the battle streamer rededication ceremony to help honor the achievements earned by the division over its 71 years of dedication to supporting the nation’s needs. In order to symbolize the heritage that the former members of the 2nd Marine division have passed onto the ranks of today’s Marines, the battle streamers were rededicated by SMDA members accompanied by active duty Marines of the 2nd Marine Division, during the ceremony.
The final event of the birthday celebration was a birthday banquet held at the officers club later in the evening. During the banquet, the guest of honor, Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, Commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, spoke on the division’s history as well as its current strides for the continued success of 2nd Marine Division.
“We’re following in your boot tracks and you have really set the standard high,” said Hejlik. “Frankly we appreciate that and I will assure you that the Marines of the follow me division are up to that standard, they will not let you down. There is not one PFC through colonel that will let down the Marines of 2nd Marine Division who have gone before us. This is your night and we salute you for what you’ve done.”
“All we ask is that when you see a fellow Marine from the 2nd Marine Division, you go up and you pat them on the back and say let me tell you a little sea story. I guarantee he’ll listen, because they love those stories that are a part of our history, traditions and courtesies.”