CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
To honor their fallen brethren, the Marines and sailors of 1st Marine Division held a Colors and Memorial Dedication ceremony, outside the division headquarters building, Sept. 16.
More than 200 guests attended the ceremony, led by Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman and Sgt. Maj. Phillip Fascetti, commanding general and sergeant major of 1st Mar Div. (Fwd) respectively. Most notably in attendance were Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commanding general, Regional Command Southwest, Brig. George Norton, British general and deputy commander, RC(SW), Brig. Gen. Malook, commanding general, Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps, and Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, sergeant major, RC(SW).
The ceremony began with a moment of prayer.
"On this solemn occasion, we memorialize our fallen brothers who willingly offered their lives as an act of service and ultimately as an act of sacrifice for their great nation, their beloved Corps and their brothers on the battlefield," said Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Ortiz, 1st MarDiv (Fwd) chaplain.
"Truly our brothers embodied the words of our Lord who said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.’"
Following the invocation, the American, Afghan, and Marine Corps flags were raised one by one, as the 1st MarDiv (Fwd) Band, played the national anthem, the Afghan national anthem, and the Marines’ Hymn, in congruence with each flag.
Directly in front of the flagpoles and at the epicenter of the ceremony, was the 1st Marine Division (Fwd) Memorial monument. The monument will stand proudly in front of the division headquarters building as a daily reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by our fallen heroes of the division, to include the British 40 Commandos, and the 31st Georgian Battalion. It will also hold the dog tags, of the Marines, sailors and coalition partners, who gave all for their country, and the safety and security of the Afghan people.
"We have this memorial today to recognize the ultimate sacrifice the members of the division have made during this counter-insurgency fight in support of our allies here in Afghanistan, in an effort to establish their country and make it a better place for their people," Osterman said. "I think it is really important that we realize that everything we do out here is in support of that young lance corporal ‘walking point,’ whether it is fighting the enemy, or engaging with the community."
Since assuming responsibility, March 20, as the ground combat element of Task Force Leatherneck, the division has lost 83 service members. In honor of those killed-in-action, Capt. Jessamy Buban, 1st Mar Div. (Fwd) adjutant, solemnly read each of their names, followed by a ring of the bell.
After the names of 82 fallen heroes were recognized, both Brig. Gen. Osterman and Sgt. Maj. Fascetti marched smartly to the monument, and placed the dog tag of Lance Cpl. John C. Bishop, the 83rd division service member killed-in-action, Sept. 8.
The ceremony concluded with 1st Lt. David Bates’ bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace," followed by Chaplain Ortiz’ reading of the Marine Prayer, and the band’s playing of the 1st Marine Division fight song, "Waltzing Matilda," Anchors Aweigh, and the Marines’ Hymn.
"Today was an opportunity for us to honor all of our brothers-in-arms who have died fighting for our nations," Fascetti said. "It is humbling to be associated with such warriors."