QUANTICO, Va. (9/25/2012) – In the early hours of Jan. 21, 1968, the North Vietnamese Army attacked the outpost of Khe Sanh with a shower of bullets and artillery that instantly killed 18 Marines and injured 40 more. Thus began the Battle of Khe Sanh, the longest and second deadliest battle of the Vietnam War. Marines, sailors and soldiers held the isolated airstrip in the Quang Tri province for 77 days before breaking through and allowing supplies to reach the siege-worn men.
Marines and sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit hold a welcoming ceremony for the Khe Sanh Veterans Inc. reunion at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., Aug. 30, 2012. The 22nd MEU spent time exchanging experiences with and learning from veterans who served at Khe Sanh. Photo by USMC Sgt. Amber Blanchard
Khe Sanh Veterans Inc., is an organization created to commemorate the service members who served in the Khe Sanh Combat Base and tactical area of operations from 1962 to 1972. Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit welcomed these veterans to their annual reunion at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., Aug. 30, 2012.
The Khe Sanh veterans and their families took the opportunity to share their experiences with the young Marines and sailors of the MEU.
Retired Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas, president of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation greeted the Marines and sailors of the MEU.
“I would like to welcome you to your museum,” said Ron Christmas. “This is dedicated to every Marine who has ever served and their heritage.”
When the Khe Sanh Marines, sailors and families arrived, the officers of Khe Sanh Veterans Inc., took a moment to recognize current members and remember the Marines who since passed.
“We remember these people that have passed away from our units, especially Khe Sanh,” said Ron Rayner, chaplain for Khe Sanh Veterans Inc. “There were over 2,100 guys killed from the Khe Sanh area from 1962-1972, and they did it for us ... We owe it to them to live a good life.”
After the opening ceremonies, Col. James D. Christmas, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU, greeted the Khe Sanh Marines and encouraged them to share their stories with the young Marines.
“Most of my Marines have served in combat now multiple times,” said James Christmas. “But they don't know the rest of the story. You are the rest of the story. You've been in combat, you came back from combat and you lived the rest of your lives, and you've lived them successfully ... those in uniform today appreciate you, for you made us. You made us who we are and what we are today.”
Marines of the 22nd MEU enjoyed interacting with the Khe Sanh veterans and exchanging stories with their brothers.
“It was a good time, it felt motivating and encouraging,” said Sgt. Christopher Williams, a motor transport mechanic with the 22nd MEU, and a New York City native. “It makes you appreciate everything they did in the past so we can have the future we have today.”
More photos below
By USMC Sgt. Amber Blanchard
Provided through DVIDS
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