MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- More than 300 Marines and sailors officially became part of the storied 5th Marine Regiment during a ceremony aboard the Camp San Mateo Parade Deck here, Aug. 1.
The servicemembers were formally presented their French Fourragere during their rite of passage. The French government originally awarded 5th and 6th Marines the fourragere for actions during World War I. They are the only Marine Corps units authorized to wear it on their uniforms. The units also earned the Croix de Guerre with two palms and one gilt star for their actions in several battles including the Battle of Bellau Woods. It was during this time the regiment also earned the nickname the Fighting Fifth.
“In 1918, the 5th Marine Regiment, along with the 6th Marine Regiment, fought heroically in three separate battles as part of the Marine Brigade of the American Expeditionary Force,” said Col. Jason Bohm, commanding officer, 5th Marines. “Being recognized with three awards, (the Regiment) was permanently awarded with the French Fourragere to wear and maintain on their uniform for all time after World War I.”
The Marines originally earned the nickname Devil Dogs for their tenacity against the German opposition during the Battle of Belleau Woods, the most well known of these battles. The honor to wear the fourragere adds to the Regiment’s rich history and centuries of service.
“Fifth Marines is the most decorated regiment in the Marine Corps,” said Bohm, a native of Ithaca, N.Y. “Our history and tradition are very important to us.”
The ceremony’s purpose was more than just welcoming the new servicemembers into the regiment. It placed emphasis on what it means to be part of the regiment, Bohm said.
“The Marine or sailor accepting the fourragere showed their commitment to live up to that legacy, history and tradition of the Fighting Fifth Marines,” Bohm said.
Many of the Marines and sailors felt the weight of that legacy as they attached the fourragere to their uniforms.
“I am honored to be part of that history and wear it on my shoulder today,” said Cpl. Genadiy Moskalenko, motor transportation operator, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. “I’m excited to be part of that history.”
Moskalenko, a native of Sacramento, Calif., compared receiving his fourragere to another iconic moment during recruit training all Marines remember.
“When I received that fourragere, it gave me a flashback to receiving the Eagle, Globe and Anchor,” Moskalenko said. “It’s that responsibility that you feel, the acceptance into the brotherhood when you received the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. That is kind of on par with being part of 5th Marines now.”
Now formally welcomed into the regiment and wearing their French Fourragere on their shoulders, the Marines will strive to maintain the standard set before them as part of the most decorated regiment in the Marine Corps, Bohm said.
“There is a rich legacy that we have to live up to,” he added. “It’s not so much what we did yesterday or what is in our past, but more importantly, what are the Marines and sailors with the regiment going to do to build on the legacy of those that went before us.”