Marines Promoted, Re-enlist At Ground Zero
(November 20, 2009)
|NEW YORK CITY (11/8/2009) — Overlooking the site where eight years ago nearly
3,000 innocent people were murdered in the terror attacks of 9/11, three Marines
were promoted and four dedicated another four years of their lives to serve and
protect the nation Wednesday.|
Promotions are typically considered an exciting time in a Marine's career and
having chevrons pinned on with the sound of construction in the background at
this sacred site took it to a whole new level.
|Buildings stand at the position of attention as Col. Mark J. Desens, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 commanding officer, gives the oath of enlistment to Marines at ground zero Nov. 4, 2009.
For one meritoriously promoted sergeant it was an opportunity to pay respect to
“We came to the World Trade Center to take a moment to reflect on the events
that took place and why we are here today,” said Sgt. Alex L. Diaz, who won a
recent 26 Marine Expeditionary Unit meritorious sergeant board. “I felt like
every American when we saw what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. It's something we
all have inside of us. Just to be here is an amazing experience that I will
never forget. It is honoring all the lives lost. It's something I can do to give
back to back to my country.”
Two Marines were promoted to lance corporal – Roland Richardson, an
administrative clerk, and Frank Pagan, a tank crewman.
Family members in attendance were especially moved.
“I am the happiest mom ever. He's made everybody happy in the family. We are so
proud of him,” said Mildred Martinez, Pagan's mother. “It's an honor to come to
this spot. He's done such a great job and has come such a long way. He's the
most respectful son. I am very proud of him.”
When Marines enlist in the Corps, they typically sign a four year contract. At
the end of that time period, they either choose to get out of the service or
stay in. If they choose to stay in, they typically sign for four more years.
Four Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 chose to serve
another four years and re-enlisted at the site Wednesday.
SPMAGTF-26 radio chief, Gunnery Sgt. Lorenzo Merced, enlisted for the fourth
time, while Sgt. Matthew Schivers enlisted for his third, and Cpl. Bobby Hoover
and Cpl. Kenneth Vandame both enlisted for the second time.
“It's a privilege to do it here. It was a gift, because it holds such meaning to
me. I personally had two really close friends and a family member lost here. I
can't express in words,” said Vandame, a Rochester, N.Y. native. “It provided a
lot of insight into how I feel (about) everything that has happened in the past
at this site. This really does hold such a great meaning to me. I am proud to
give another four years of my life.”
The Marines are in New York with USS New York for its commissioning. The ship
was built with 7 � tons of steel from the World Trade Center forged into its
“We are here to honor the victims of 9/11 and to show what we are doing post to
represent America and rebuild,” said Diaz. “It's especially significant for the
state, the city and the nation. It kind of represents the progress we've made,
that we are still here, and we're not going to stop fighting.”
Article and photo by USMC Sgt Danielle Bacon
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
Marine Corps News
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