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RCT-8 Honors Fallen Brothers
by USMC Cpl. Clayton VonDerAhe - February 2, 2012

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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (1/27/2012) — Marines and sailors from Regimental Combat Team 8 gathered in the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune theater Jan. 25, for a remembrance ceremony to honor fallen heroes who served under the command of the regiment during their recent deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Simms, a member of Regimental Combat Team 8’s Police Mentoring Team, looks at the battlefield memorial on display at Regimental Combat Team 8’s remembrance ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s theater, Jan. 25, 2012. The ceremony was held to honor the 60 servicemembers who fell in the line of duty during the unit’s recent yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. (Official Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. James Frazier), Pfc. James Frazer
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Simms, a member of Regimental Combat Team 8's Police Mentoring Team, looks at the battlefield memorial on display at Regimental Combat Team 8's remembrance ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's theater, Jan. 25, 2012. The ceremony was held to honor the 60 servicemembers who fell in the line of duty during the unit's recent yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. (Official Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. James Frazier), Pfc. James Frazer
 Regimental Combat Team 8 had nine Marine infantry battalions serve in support of them during their yearlong deployment to Nimroz and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan beginning in January 2011. Sixty Marines, sailors and airmen were killed in action throughout the area of operation, to include soldiers from three separate light infantry battalions from the Republic of Georgia's army.

“Each could have found a way to avoid being in harm's way the day they were killed,” said Col. Eric Smith during the remembrance ceremony. “They could have feigned an ankle sprain or simply asked to sit out the particular patrol. But that is not who we are as a service. We move toward the sound of guns, and we close with the enemy. We are gunfighters. The men we remember today epitomize our ethos. We respect them, we are proud of them and we loved them.”

Photos of each fallen servicemember were displayed in a wall spanning the entire hardwood stage. A battlefield memorial, consisting of combat boots, a rifle, kevlar helmet and identification tags, sat solemnly amidst the photos.

The strictly adhered military honors radiated a sense of reverence to the great sacrifice each of the fallen heroes made. The remembrance testified the honor displayed by each individual hero and the loss suffered by their families and brothers in arms.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he give his life for a friend," Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. David Todd cited from the Bible during the ceremony. "It is good to know the cost of war; and it is important to express our gratitude and appreciation to those who have died for us and for the high ideals we fought together to uphold."

Seven rifles rang out in three unison bursts composing a solemn 21-gun salute, giving final respite to the freed souls and those gathered to honor them. The sound of bagpipes filled the theater with “Amazing Grace” and the Marines and sailors of RCT-8 gathered to give their individual respects to their brothers who did not return.

"May God grant each of us the grace and strength to walk daily in faithful
service and willing sacrifice so that when our day of crisis arrives, we may stand with our brothers who stood for us," Todd said.

The ceremony came to a gradual conclusion as individuals filed out of the theater in their own time. As the saying goes, all servicemembers in the regiment gave some, but some servicemembers gave all during their tour to Afghanistan. As each attendant walked out of the dark theater and back into the beaming sunlight, they were left with memory of those who gave all, and the responsibility to live their lives in a manner becoming of the men lost.

“Will we honor the men only until 10:45 or 11 o'clock,” asked Smith during his speech. “Or will we honor the dead, war dead, defenders of the constitution, by living our lives to a higher standard? Honor the lives and sacrifices of each of these men by being better today than you were yesterday. By being a more disciplined Marine or sailor today than you were yesterday, and by being even more disciplined tomorrow. Honoring the dead requires us to be honorable in all that we do. Our fallen brothers are no longer able to execute this task for us. The task of closing the last hundred yards now falls to us. Please don't let them down. Honor the dead.”

By USMC Cpl. Clayton VonDerAhe, 2/8 Marines
Marine Corps News
Copyright 2012

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