Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen
American Forces Press Service
CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq, Feb. 3, 2005 More than 500 Marines and sailors of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and Task Force Naha, of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, gathered to honor the memory of their fallen brothers at a memorial service here Feb. 2.
Helmets, service rifles and boots represent the 30 U.S.
Marines and one sailor of Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 3rd
Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Marine Heavy Helicopter
Squadron-361, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, who died in a CH53-E Super Stallion
helicopter crash Jan. 26, and three of the ground unit's Marines, who died
during the fight for Fallujah, during a memorial service in western Iraq Feb.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Members from all military services stood mournfully in formation as chaplains from the battalion team and the expeditionary unit reflected on the memories of those lost
the 30 Marines and one sailor who died in a CH53-E Super Stallion helicopter crash Jan. 26 near Rutbah, Iraq, and three other members of the unit who died during the battle for Fallujah in November 2004.
Jan. 26 "was a tragic day for the Marine Corps and one that we will never forget," said Col. W. Lee Miller, commanding officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Those who perished in the helicopter crash were being transported to the far western region of Anbar province to assist the Iraqi security forces by providing security during the elections.
The battalion attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit became its battalion landing team in June 2004, and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in September. Since November, the unit has been involved in the fighting to liberate the city of Fallujah and has conducted security and stabilization operations at various locations throughout Anbar province.
"We've been fighting across a very large battle space," said Lt. Col. Michael R. Ramos, commanding officer of BLT 1/3. "We need to remember the sacrifices of these Marines and sailors, hold them within our hearts and take care of their families."
The fallen Marines were assigned to Company C, BLT 1/3, and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-361.
"This particular company that suffered the loss (in the crash) was the first into the city of Fallujah for our BLT," said Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Berg, BLT 1/3. "Everyone one of the Marines and sailors fought magnificently as they went into the city of Fallujah and they died as heroes fighting for what we all believe in."
The Marines had fought to free the citizens of Fallujah and were preparing to ensure a safe place for free elections to take place when they died.
"These were brave men who had served their country with honor and who made lasting contributions to both the Marine Corps and to Iraq," said Miller. "We will hold the memories of these fallen warriors close to our hearts forever. In honor of them we will continue the mission until its successful completion."
(Based on a news release from 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.)