CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Seventy years have passed since the end of the Second World War, but the gleam in their eyes indicates that the memory resonates in those who spent much of their youth fighting our country's battles. The veterans' sacrifices and unyielding commitment to our nation, despite an age difference, is a common ground with modern warriors.
Marines and sailors with 2nd Marine Division hosted World War II Remembrance Day aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on May 7, 2015.
World War II veterans are honored by Marines and Sailors with the 2nd Marine Division at the Paradise Point Officer's Club during a World War II Remembrance Day ceremony aboard Camp Lejeune, NC, May 7, 2015. Veterans were invited to Camp Lejeune to be honored and to pay tribute to the memory of those who served and are gone, but not forgotten. (U. S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shawn Valosin)
“Today is all about the WWII veterans. Having the opportunity to show them how far we've come in the 60 plus years was special for me,” said Capt. Brian Heeter, an MV-22 Osprey aircraft pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261.
Veterans together with Marines and sailors watched a jump performed by members of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and explored static displays of contemporary military equipment, to include an Amphibious Assault Vehicle, Light Armored Vehicle, and M1A1 Abrams Tank, before exchanging experiences during lunch.
“It makes you feel unified with your comrades,” said Elden Tetzlaff, retired Captain and WWII veteran formerly with 6th Marine Regiment. “I can't believe how heavenly it all seemed to me.”
The day closed with a commemorating ceremony at Paradise Point Officer's Club, where the veterans were welcomed with resounding applause.
“Many years have passed since America's fighting men were called upon to defend their country during World War Two,” read the master of ceremonies. “Dedication, camaraderie and courage were the central ingredients required to overcome a relentless enemy, winning battle after battle and ultimately, the war... gentlemen, it's because of your sacrifices that we are here today.”
A brief chronicle of the war's events took place, and Sgt. Maj. Brian K. Zickefoose, II Marine Expeditionary Force sergeant major and former sergeant major of 2nd Marine Division, addressed the assembly.
“I have been in the Corps for 30 years this August,” Zickefoose said. “I have seen changes in gear, equipment and training, but one thing that never changes is our warrior mentality. Marines and sailors run to the sound of the gun.”
Zickefoose then introduced Maj. Gen. Brian D. Beaudreault, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division. Beaudreault expressed gratitude and said it was the veterans' dedication and sacrifices that paved the road for today's Marines.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the 2nd Marine Division Band played music in honor of the veterans while they enjoyed refreshments and reminisced about their illustrious histories.
“You hope to run into one of your buddies at these reunions.” Tetzlaff said. “Camaraderie is what these guys like; that's what we're looking for.”
“The amount of surviving veterans from World War II is dwindling. I was glad to have the chance to meet them and show them how much I appreciate all that they did,” Heeter said.
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Shawn Valosin
Provided through DVIDS
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