- Customer Care
Wounded Warriors Remember Belleau Wood
August 23, 2013
One thousand names are etched into the steely marble at the memorial chapel at Belleau Wood. The number of casualties and missing Marines from the epic World War I battle in France leaves 24-year-old Cpl Kevin Hoffman somber and “speechless.”
“As a wounded warrior, you can still relate to being hurt in war even when you think about just how bloody World War I was,” Hoffman said. “I think every generation of warriors can relate on some level no matter what. Technology changes in war but the people who fight it don’t.”
Hoffman was among 32 wounded warriors and support team members who traveled to France in June 2013 to visit battle sites integral to U.S. history. The Marine Corps Association & Foundation funded the trip as part of its Commanders’ Forum program to foster professional military education. Some of the sites included the WWI battlefield at Belleau Wood and the WWII U.S. Army landing sites and battlefields in Normandy at Omaha and Utah beaches.
Standing on the soil of Belleau Wood was an invaluable experience for SSgt Paul Valentin. He has spent the past two years as protocol chief for the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and also attended the trip.
“To me, it was an honor and privilege to go to hallowed ground where Marines had died before me,” Valentin said. “It’s about understanding your roots as a Marine.”
Belleau Wood was an especially historic battle for the Marine Corps because it was the first time Marines had fought in large formations in regiments and as a division. Valentin said there was no better lesson than seeing the battle site in the flesh rather than reading the details from the pages of a history book. There were still bullet scars in the trees and artillery shells on the ground, he said.
Valentin said it’s important to relay those lessons to the wounded Marines at Walter Reed who are relatively fresh from combat and recovering from various injuries. It resonates with them because not every Marine is battle hardened, he said, and sometimes they need a reminder of their vital role in the larger story of the Marine Corps.
“The things they’re doing now in Afghanistan are going to be written in history,” Valentin said. “A Marine 50 years from now will read about it. There is a purpose to what we do as Marines.”
Valentin said he is grateful for the Marine Corps Association & Foundation for footing the bill because most junior Marines cannot afford a similar trip on their paychecks. Valentin has been a member of the association for seven years.
“We’re thankful for this great organization that supports our Marines and takes care of us,” Valentin said.
As for history buff Hoffman, he can cross off at least a few important military sites from his bucket list. But it is Belleau Wood that makes him proud to be from 3d Battalion, Sixth Marines. He remembers his fallen brothers every day as he slips the French fourragere awarded to his regiment for their epic fight at Belleau Wood over his left shoulder.
“How many Marines from their unit get to see their history up close?” he asked.
“They’ll be stories I’ll pass on to my kids,” Hoffman said.
I want to relay my many thanks to everyone at Marine Corps Association and Military Historical Tours for providing me the opportunity to experience such a wonderful trip to Russia. Had I not won this trip through MCA I may have never taken advantage of such fantastic travels. The group, the Russian Tour guide (Oleg Alexandrov) and Charlie Dunn were wonderful companions during the trip. It will be a memory I will cherish all of my remaing days on this earth.
Again, Many thanks and Semper Fidelis!
1stSgt Bradshaw, USMC (Ret.)
Just wanted to let you know that I got the sword yesterday with time to spare. It showed up unscathed due to the excellent packing job despite the rough postal process. And most importantly it looks great and the Bahraini’s couldn’t be happier! Thanks again for all of your assistance.
Major Wayne Phelps
3d LAAD Bn XO
Security Force, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
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My Name is Sergeant Major Juan. M. Hidalgo, Sergeant Major of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) out of Camp Pendleton, CA. Sergeant Major (Ret.) Frank Pulley is one of my mentors and is someone that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. The MCA and SgtMaj Pulley do a phenomenal job in helping us recognize our Marines and Sailors and they continually demonstrate that they are always more than ready to support; anytime...Anyplace! And on behalf of the entire 13th MEU, I thank you very much!
Sergeant Major Juan. M. Hidalgo
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That in itself says a lot about your organization. The blouse fits
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Thank you and all the staff who had a hand in correcting a problem and making an old man happy. Semper Fi
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- Battle Of Belleau Wood Not Forgotten By U.S. Marines And Frenchmen (Photo Gallery)
- Wounded Warriors Remember Belleau Wood (Photo Gallery)
- Ninety Years Later (Article)
- Pilgrimage to the Birthplace Of the Modern Marine Corps (Article)
- Wounded Warrior Regiment Marines Commemorate the Battle of Belleau Wood In France (Photo Gallery)