Wounded Marines Honor Fallen Heroes
A few months ago, your support of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation helped make possible an unforgettable professional military education (PME) event: a visit by Marines in the Wounded Warrior Regiment to the battlefields of Belleau Wood and Normandy, France.
This is one more example of how your faithful support of the MCA&F not only assists wounded Marines in their recovery, but also keeps them thinking and acting like Marines. The time not devoted to treatment and rehabilitation is spent participating in professional military education and other Corps-focused activities … many of which are made possible through the active partnership between the Wounded Warrior Regiment and the MCA&F.
The first excursion took the group to Belleau Wood, site of the World War I battle called “the birthplace of the modern Marine Corps.” In June 1918, the German Army was rolling the French defenders back toward Paris. The U.S. Army’s Second Division, which included the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments comprising the 4th Marine Brigade, was placed in the path of the German advance. Strong Marine resistance — including rifle fire that shocked the Germans with its accuracy — halted the enemy advance. The Corps then went on the offensive, securing a foothold by nightfall on June 6, but suffering greater casualties than the Corps had in the previous 143 years combined. Just 10 days later, the Marines had secured all of Belleau Wood.
Visiting this legendary landmark is sobering for any Marine, and especially so for the Wounded Warrior Regiment Marines, most of whom had themselves been seriously wounded in combat. MSgt Jose Melendez said, “This connects these Marines to those who fought here 96 years ago. It will stay with them forever. Many thanks to the MCA&F for making this trip possible.”
The next day, Marines in their dress blues attended a Memorial Day ceremony at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Belleau Wood. The 2d Marine Division Band, members of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments, French Army units, and several thousand French civilians were in attendance, and Wounded Warrior Regiment Marines were guests of honor as General James Amos, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett honored the more than 2,000 Americans buried there.
The Marines’ next trip was to Normandy, site of the 1944 D-Day landing. The Marines were awed by the challenge facing the Allies as they landed on broad beaches under intense fire from Germans dug into the dunes and cliffs above.
“I can’t imagine having to cross that beach under fire while carrying 80 pounds of gear,” said SgtMaj Raquel Painter of Wounded Warrior Battalion-East.
Col Willard “Willy” Buhl, former Commanding Officer of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, said, “The Regiment could not do this trip without the support of our Association. I wish every MCA&F member and donor could be here to see what this means to these Marines.
“Thank all of them for us.”
On his behalf and that of all wounded Marines, thank you! Your generous partnership makes the Corps stronger in so many ways.