Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Ryan Sotelo, a platoon sergeant serving with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, holds the Afghanistan Campaign Streamer during a battle colors rededication ceremony at the Camp San Mateo helicopter landing pad here, June 5, 2013. Marines serving with 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, added the Afghanistan Campaign streamer and rededicated streamers from previous campaigns to the regiment's battle colors during the ceremony. The Fighting Fifth is recognized as the most decorated regiment in the Marine Corps. Marines and sailors of the regiment earned the Afghanistan Campaign streamer during a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan as Regimental Combat Team 5 from August 2011 to August 2012. Sotelo, a San Mateo, Calif., native, is a Silver Star recipient and a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Photo by Sgt. Alfred V. Lopez

Corps' most decorated regiment adds Afghanistan Campaign streamer to battle colors

7 Jun 2013 | Sgt. Alfred V. Lopez

Marines serving with 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, added the Afghanistan Campaign streamer and rededicated their streamers from previous campaigns to the regiment’s battle colors during a rededication ceremony at the Camp San Mateo helicopter landing pad here, June 5.

The Fighting Fifth is recognized as the most decorated regiment in the Marine Corps. Marines and sailors of the regiment earned the Afghanistan Campaign streamer during a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan as Regimental Combat Team 5 from August 2011 to August 2012.

“Going with the regiment to Afghanistan, while knowing the unbelievable (history) that the regiment has from past conflicts, we felt a lot of pressure to perform up to the standards,” said Col. Roger B. Turner, the 5th Marines commanding officer.

The regiment maintained command in southern Helmand province, Afghanistan, where its Marines and sailors served as the ground combat element of 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions under I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces. 

They worked in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations in Garmsir, Khan Neshin, Marjah and Nawa districts.

“We really feel like we stand on the shoulders of giants of men who have served all the way from World War I to today,” said Turner, a Laurel, Md., native. “We’re glad to be worthy successors of them.”

Several veterans who served with the regiment during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom attended the ceremony to pay tribute to their former unit.

“Some of the (veterans) maintain a strong relationship with the unit,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Bairstow, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, commanding officer and former operations officer for RCT-5. “It’s always an honor to have them come out to events like this because we have a lot of support from them.”

According to the regiment’s official history, prior to U.S. forces’ deployment to France in WW I, 5th Marines was activated in Philadelphia during June 1917. So fierce were their efforts in Belleau Wood and subsequent victories, the French government awarded the regiment the Croix de Guerre with two palms and one gilt star. 

Today, each Marine serving in the regiment also wears the French fourragere on the left shoulder of his uniform to recognize the legacy and valor of his predecessors.

Since then, the regiment has served in the hallowed battlegrounds of Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait and most recently Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Fighting Fifth will continue to honor their history in the upcoming days by unveiling a memorial monument for the regiment’s Marines and sailors who sacrificed their lives during OEF. The regiment will also celebrate their 96th birthday, June 11.

“We feel a really heavy burden to live up to the legacy that has been set before us,” said Bairstow, a native of Thousand Oaks, Calif. “To me, what this ceremony entails is tying together the past with what we’re doing in the present, and the legacy that we’ll have to live with in the future.”