Camp Pendleton Marine Base held a ceremony Friday honoring 125 Marines and sailors who died in the last year serving in Afghanistan — as well as the 2000 who were injured. The sprawling base just south of San Clemente has experienced more than its share of loss over the years. For example, during the first half of the Iraq war, Marines from Pendleton had the greatest number of deaths and casualties of any U.S. fighting force.
One hundred and twenty-five Marines and sailors killed in Afghanistan in the last year, and another 2,000 wounded, were honored at a ceremony Friday morning at Camp Pendleton. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Pendleton, had been in charge of all Marines in Afghanistan until that authority passed to those in charge at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
In the moving ceremony, as reported on the L.A. Now blog at the Los Angeles Times, the morning flag was raised, tributes were made, and the names of the last 8 Pendleton Marines killed in action were read. The latest casualty was Cpl. Ian Muller, 22, of Danville, Vt., killed on March 11.
During the ceremony, a bugler played taps and a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”
As an institution, one of the distinguishing features of the Marine Corps is its reverence for its history. Former Marines are invited to all ceremonies on this sprawling base: changes of command, memorials, award presentations, even ribbon-cuttings for a new barracks or water-treatment plant.
For example, at a change-of-command ceremony Thursday for the 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment, there were several rows of former Marines. A page in the program was devoted to the remembrance of a 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam: Cpl. Larry L. Maxam.
Remembering our past — and always honoring those who make the ultimate sacrifice — is vital to finding a way to bring an end to war and to prevent such ceremonies from ever needing to take place again.
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