Though blood may have been shed and tears may have fallen, not one drop sacrificed by the brave heroes of 3/6 will ever be forgotten.
Nine of these unforgettable heroes were awarded the Purple Heart for their sacrifices, during a ceremony held by 3rd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 27.
The ceremony began with a reading of the Purple Heart's long and distinguished history by the battalion’s sergeant major.
“Reading the Purple Heart’s history ensures that all in attendance have a good understanding of the significance of how the Purple Heart award came to be and the importance of continuing to recognize our warriors who have received this award for doing what marines do; accomplishing the mission,” said Sgt. Maj. Jim Lanham, sergeant major of 3rd Bn., 6th Marines. “These warriors have done exactly that in Afghanistan and their work ethic and determination led to a better life for the Afghan people.”
The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces who, after April 5, 1917 have been wounded, killed, or have died after being wounded.
Several of the awarded Marines had friends and family members in attendance during the ceremony.
“Having family members attend the ceremony gives them an opportunity to see the importance of what we do and the significance of their loved ones sacrifice to defend our country,” said Lanham.
Following the close of the ceremony the awarded Marines were greeted by several members of the Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, MOPH (Military Order of the Purple Heart).
The mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among Combat Wounded Veterans, promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives and most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families.
“It’s incredible to have these veterans here,” said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Whitman, platoon sergeant of 2nd platoon, Company L, 3rd Bn., 6th Marines. “These are men who have sacrificed the same way as the Marines who stood beside me here today, but years before us. Yet the fact that there is such camaraderie and brotherhood between us that they want to bring us into their group, accept us and let us know that there are people who can help us is just remarkable."
For many of the Marines who received the Purple Heart, receiving the award isn’t only a symbol of their sacrifice, but a welcoming into a new brotherhood of proud and dignified heroes.
“Being apart of an entire group of Marines who have a visual display of the sacrifice they've made for every other person in the United States,” said Whitman. “I think that’s incredibly important. I was fortunate enough to only receive a minor wound, while some Marines will never walk again and sometimes that makes it hard to accept this award, but then I realize that no matter the sacrifice, I am now a part of a group of men who have a physical or emotional mark that shows that they have sacrificed something so that others can stand here. I am definitely glad to be a part of that.”
Article by Cpl. Joshua J. Hines, 2nd Marine Division