CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Approximately 400 Marines, sailors and soldiers from several commands under the I Marine Expeditionary Force came together at the Camp Fallujah chapel here to remember their fallen in a Memorial Day service May 29.
The service honored 78 Marines, sailors and soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since I MEF took authority from II MEF Feb. 28.
Although a somber occasion, the service which was filled with scripture readings, songs and speeches, was quite lively.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee, who discussed how service members can honor their fallen brothers.
“The best way that we can remember them is to continue to live up to the values that they believed in and that they gave their life for,” said Hagee.
The hour-long ceremony included musical performances by two choirs, the Camp Fallujah band, bagpipes, and the traditional playing of Taps, which resulted in an array of emotion from cheering to tearing.
Marines, sailors and soldiers filled Camp Fallujah’s chapel from scores of units within I MEF.
As one final salute, the I MEF headquarters Sergeant Major, Sgt. Maj. Neil W. O’Connell read the names of the 78 service members. As each name was called, a bell placed in the middle of the stage was rung as a tribute to the fallen.
“I was impressed with the whole ceremony,” said Sgt. Raul C. Garcia, an ammunition technician with Regimental Combat Team 5 Headquarters Company, serving his second tour in Iraq. “It gave us one last moment of remembrance for the Marines that have been killed in action here.”