CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The battles that make up Marine Corps history reflect each individual Marine's dedication to their country and their brothers and sisters-in-arms.
November 7, 2014, active duty and retired service members, family members, and friends gathered at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Battle of Fallujah and to remember the men and women who fought there.
Major Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, and Lt. Gen. Richard F. Natonski (Ret.), the commanding general of 1st MARDIV during the Battle of Fallujah, place a wreath to honor the fallen during the battle's 10 year anniversary commemoration ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 7, 2014. Natonski, who was also the guest speaker for the ceremony, said that the conflict taught Marines the importance of planning and precision. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)
Major Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, thanked everyone for their presence at the ceremony and recognized the historical significance of the battle.
“10 years ago today, we faced a very daunting challenge; we took on what would become one of the iconic battles of our corps,” said Nicholson.
Nicholson described Marines' approach to history and tradition almost as a religious passion.
“From Belleau Wood to Guadalcanal, the Pacific campaign, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir, Hue City, Khe Sanh, we know them all,” said Nicholson. “Every Marine knows those battles, and I think we all understand today that Fallujah will join the ranks of those most esteemed and iconic battles.”
Lieutenant Gen. Richard F. Natonski (Ret.), the former commanding general of 1st MARDIV, I MEF who led the division during the battle in 2004, agreed that the Battle of Fallujah will, and maybe has already, become a landmark of Marine Corps History.
“I remember a few years ago walking the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps,” said Natonski. “As I got closer to the chapel, the last battle that was etched in the stone of that sidewalk was Fallujah.”
The challenges facing the Marines of that battle included the radical ideals and methods of their adversaries.
“We faced an enemy who wanted nothing more than to kill Americans,” said Natonski. “There were instances in the city of insurgents being shot repeatedly and still coming at Marines because they were so doped up.”
However, the close quarters of the city itself also presented a problem, one that was overcome by the precision munitions used during the battle.
“The fact that you can drop a building with Marines right across the street is unheard of,” said Natonski. “We wanted to limit collateral damage to the greatest extent we could in the city because we knew the people were coming back.”
Natonski added that approximately $1 billion was budgeted for the reconstruction of Fallujah after the battle. He also explained that the damage provided a measuring stick for how the city was healing.
“Wherever I've been, whether it's been places like Sarajevo or Mogadishu, you know progress is being made when they start putting glass back in the windows,” said Natonski. “In 2006, there was glass in the windows, the markets were open, and the reconstruction had begun.”
Natonski explained that the victory at Fallujah was only possible because of the remarkable service members who fought there.
“These kids are truly national treasures,” said Natonski. “We are lucky as a nation that we have young men and young women willing to don the uniform of our armed forces and to go in harm's way.”
As proven throughout history and during the Battle of Fallujah, the Marines of I MEF remain America's Expeditionary Force in Readiness. They are organized, trained, and equipped to respond to any crisis, anytime, anywhere.
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel
Provided through DVIDS
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