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I Marine Expeditionary Force

In Every Clime and Place

Regional Command Southwest honors fallen heroes

By Cpl. Joshua Young | I Marine Expeditionary Force | April 23, 2013

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A battle cross sits on display before the Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013.

A battle cross sits on display before the Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) speaks during the Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I MEF (Fwd) in Afghanistan 2012-2013.

Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) speaks during the Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I MEF (Fwd) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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A battle cross sits on display before the Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 U.S. and coalition service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013.

A battle cross sits on display before the Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 U.S. and coalition service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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Cpl. Joshua Collier, a helicopter mechanic with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, presents a dog tag to Sgt. Maj. Harrison Tanksley, the sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), during a memorial service for Regional Command (Southwest) at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. Seventy-six Marines presented dog tags which each bore the name of one of the service members killed in combat operations during the I MEF (Fwd) deployment in Afghanistan 2012-2013. The 76 Marines draped the dog tag on the battle cross for the service members after it was presented to the sergeant major. Collier, 21, is from Bettendorf, Iowa.

Cpl. Joshua Collier, a helicopter mechanic with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, presents a dog tag to Sgt. Maj. Harrison Tanksley, the sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), during a memorial service for Regional Command (Southwest) at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. Seventy-six Marines presented dog tags which each bore the name of one of the service members killed in combat operations during the I MEF (Fwd) deployment in Afghanistan 2012-2013. The 76 Marines draped the dog tag on the battle cross for the service members after it was presented to the sergeant major. Collier, 21, is from Bettendorf, Iowa. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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Cpl. Luis Palomino, an administration specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 15, presents a dog tag to Sgt. Maj. Harrison Tanksley, the sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), during a memorial service for Regional Command (Southwest) at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. Seventy-six Marines presented dog tags which each bore the name of one of the service members killed in combat operations during the I MEF (FWD) deployment in Afghanistan 2012-2013. The 76 Marines draped the dog tag on the battle cross for the service members after it was presented to the sergeant major. Palomino, 21, is from Houston, Texas.

Cpl. Luis Palomino, an administration specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 15, presents a dog tag to Sgt. Maj. Harrison Tanksley, the sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), during a memorial service for Regional Command (Southwest) at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. Seventy-six Marines presented dog tags which each bore the name of one of the service members killed in combat operations during the I MEF (FWD) deployment in Afghanistan 2012-2013. The 76 Marines draped the dog tag on the battle cross for the service members after it was presented to the sergeant major. Palomino, 21, is from Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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Family members and friends of Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Beauchamp, a Navy corpsman who lost his life while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, embrace each other during a memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The Regional Command (Southwest) memorial honored the 76 Marines who lost their lives during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. The parade deck was opened to friends, family and service members who wished to pay their respect to the memorial following the ceremony.

Family members and friends of Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Beauchamp, a Navy corpsman who lost his life while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, embrace each other during a memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The Regional Command (Southwest) memorial honored the 76 Marines who lost their lives during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. The parade deck was opened to friends, family and service members who wished to pay their respect to the memorial following the ceremony. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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The 1st Marine Division Band plays an opening song for Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 U.S. and coalition service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013.

The 1st Marine Division Band plays an opening song for Regional Command (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 U.S. and coalition service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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Brigadier Stuart Skeates, the deputy commanding general of Regional Command (Southwest) Afghanistan, speaks during the RC (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013.

Brigadier Stuart Skeates, the deputy commanding general of Regional Command (Southwest) Afghanistan, speaks during the RC (Southwest) memorial service at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11. The service memorialized the 76 service members who were killed while conducting combat operations during the deployment for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan 2012-2013. (Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)


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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif -- Friends, family and service members from various allied nations gathered to honor the men and women who were killed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during the I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) deployment in Helmand and Nimroz provinces in Southern Afghanistan.

The diverse group united in commemoration to show their support to their fallen friends and their families at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 11.

Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the commanding general of I MEF (Fwd) and Regional Command (Southwest), emphasized the importance of memorializing the service members’ sacrifice.

“Each one was a husband or a wife,” said Gurganus, “Each one was a father or a mother, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, and each one had to leave their family behind. We’re here to honor the sacrifice of these men and women.”

The service members’ names were each read aloud at the memorial. Marines holding a dog tag bearing the name of one of the fallen service members approached the battle cross on display and draped the tag from the rifle as each name echoed across the parade deck. 

The memorial also provided an opportunity to bring closure to the deployment, which was made successful by those willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. 

“The sacrifice represented by the memorial we see in front of us today has allowed the most extraordinary progress over the year of our deployment,” said Brigadier Stuart Skeates, the deputy commanding general of RC (SW) Afghanistan. “Our fallen will live on forever in our memory.”

The parade deck was opened to any who wished to pay their respects to the deceased service members at the memorial following the ceremony. Service members embraced family members, shaking their hands and thanking them for the opportunity to pay them tribute. 

“The families here need to know that each one of these heroes and everyone else who has served in Afghanistan has made a difference,” Gurganus said. “We’ll keep the faith with you, and we’ll continue to keep you in our prayers. My promise to you is that we never will forget, we will remember.”

Jack Beauchamp, the father of Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Ross Beauchamp, who was killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, described his feelings on how the memorial brought closure to their sacrifice.

“This lets us know that all of our fallen soldiers from whatever nation or branch are not forgotten,” Beauchamp said. “They went over there for a reason. They went over there to do a job. We’re going to keep remembering them for what they do.”