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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots

By USMC LCpl. Johnny Merkley

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RCT-2 Marines And Sailors Honor Their Fallen
(March 3, 2011)

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A Marine with Regimental Combat Team 2 mourns the loss of a fellow comrad during a memorial service aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 23, 2011. The regiment's 87 lives lost during the recent year-long deployment of RCT-2 was the greatest total loss of any regiment that fought in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A Marine with Regimental Combat Team 2 mourns the loss of a fellow comrad during a memorial service aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 23, 2011. The regiment's 87 lives lost during the recent year-long deployment of RCT-2 was the greatest total loss of any regiment that fought in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
 Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. (MCN -2/23/2011) — Marines, sailors and family members from Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, honored their 87 fallen comrades Feb. 23, 2011, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC.

The regiment returned from Afghanistan early February after a year-long deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The difficulty of their task seemed to reveal itself among the formation of fallen soldier memorials. Each memorial stood in honor of the service member it represented.

“These men gave their lives for their country, their fellow brothers, and for the people of Afghanistan,” said Cmdr. Bill Appleton, the regimental chaplain for RCT-2. “They truly have the warrior mentality that many of us look up to in times of war.”

Troops from British Royal Marines' 40 Commando and the 31st Georgian Battalion were also present during the service because fallen service members within their ranks were included among the formation of memorials.

“These men showed no fear in the face of death,” said Appleton. “The majority of them enlisted in a time of war knowing their lives were on the line for their country.”

The ceremony closed with a 21-gun salute, followed by the playing of Taps. Emotion filled the auditorium as family members and friends made their way to the front of the formation of memorials.

“None of them were victims. None of them died quaking in fear or hiding from the Taliban,” said Col. Paul Kennedy, the
commanding officer of RCT-2. “They stand watch over us in death as they did so ably in life.”
Although their losses are heavy, their sacrifices have helped pave with way for the Afghan people to restore their country and move toward a better future.

“The sacrifice these men made will never be forgotten,” said Kennedy. “Their legacy and passion will live on through everyone who had the honor of knowing them.”
Article and photos by LCpl. Johnny Merkley
2nd Marine Division
Copyright 2011

Reprinted from Marine Corps News

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