Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – From its inception in 1775, The Marine Corps has fought for the nation’s safety and prosperity, with many Marines paying the ultimate sacrifice. Each unit within the Corps has its own legacy of excellence carved into the history books through various acts of valor. Marines make it a priority to pay homage to that legacy.
On May 26-27, 2016, Marines and sailors with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, veterans, and their families gathered to celebrate the battalion’s 75th anniversary and reunion at Camp Pendleton.
The battalion was formed February 24, 1941 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the 1st Pioneer Battalion. Over the years, 1st CEB, also known as “The Super Breed,” has supported the 1st Marine Division’s infantry units by providing general engineering support, mobility and counter mobility through danger areas on the ground.
On the first day of the event, service members, veterans and their families visited the 1st CEB building. For some, it was a look at the current state of 1st CEB and its progress since being founded. For others, it was a chance to visit their old stomping grounds.
“I was humbled when I first got here and being here today just reaffirmed that,” said Lt. Col. Colin Smith, the commanding officer of 1st CEB. “Speaking with all the past commanders and veterans here today is truly an honor and a privilege.”
After touring the area, 1st CEB hosted a rededication ceremony to honor its current unit awards while also recognizing the veterans in attendance who served in some of the notorious battles of old, during World War II, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. Marines then gave a demonstration of their current abilities to those in attendance, showing small-arms fire as well as explosives and new counter measures used today.
Although weapons and tactics have changed as time has passed, individual Marines have maintained their familiar demeanor in the eyes of those who served before.
It’s a profound experience for me,” said Robert Wallace, a retired lieutenant colonel of 1st CEB. “As I go around and look at the battalion and the condition it’s in, the equipment is a little bit different and a little more modern, but the faces of Marines all look the same.”
The closing moments of the day came when 1st CEB and personnel with the 1st Marine Division Association hosted a cookout to allow service members from all generations to freely mingle and socialize with each other.
On the second day, veterans were center stage as they presented themselves and their military experiences with the current personnel of “The Super Breed. Some used old pictures and PowerPoint slides to show Marines what it was like to be an engineer in their day. Other veterans told their own stories highlighting their specific struggles and hardships they endured in service to the nation. Veterans also brought in some of the gear they used when they served.
When the presentations were over, most service members returned to their duties, while some stayed and shared more stories of the past. Though the interaction between the past and the present may seem casual, that interaction serves as one of the various ways service members learn from the past in order to shape a better future for themselves and the Marine Corps.
Smith said the significance of the interaction between past Marines and present can’t be measured and the lessons service members learn from history can one day save someone’s life in combat.
Marines are always ready to answer the call of duty and as a result are constantly training and honing their skills so when the day does come, they will perform at the highest level. They will continue to pay tribute to the Marines who paved the way for them.