MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif -- Marines, veterans and their families gathered at the 5th Marine Regiment Memorial Garden to pay their respects to the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Battle of Ramadi. Not a dry eye could be found among the crowd as Marines laid Purple Heart Medals on top of the Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial Plaque.
The memorial gave those in attendance the chance to remember, connect with old friends, honor the sacrifices of their brothers and look toward a brighter future.
“We wanted the families to know that we still remember them and are forever indebted to them,” said Lt. Col. Robert Weiler, the executive officer of 5th Marine Regiment. “We also wanted to give the veterans a chance to discuss and share their experiences in Ramadi. The anniversary had therapeutic benefits and helped to rekindle many relationships.”
The Battle of Ramadi was a pivotal battle for U.S. forces with many lasting effects on future operations, said Weiler. Initially, the goal was to help provide infrastructure and create a safe and stable city for the residents of Ramadi. Marines intended to help develop domestic police and military forces to govern the city more autonomously. Their mission changed quickly when U.S. forces were surprised by a full-blown enemy offensive attack which thrusted the battalion into months of fierce combat.
“I was truly inspired by the things I saw in Ramadi,” said John Harrill, a native of Canton, Miss., and former Golf Company commander. “One day I would see the Marines storming a building and killing insurgents and the next I would see them giving tribal leaders guidance on starting small businesses. There was an awesome amount of intelligence, character and compassion among all of the ranks.”
The Marines who fought in Ramadi set the bar high for what was expected of future generations, said Weiler. The Marine Corps always asks for a lot from its Marines and they always deliver.
“Marines today have outstanding examples and legacies they must live up to” said Weiler. “Remembering those who sacrificed everything helps younger generations of Marines understand why they need to train so hard. It helps to put into perspective what we are fighting for and what we have to lose. They fought long and hard to maintain control over that city and their efforts were not in vain.”
Many Marines gave their lives in Ramadi, however, 10 years later their impacts, memories and legacies remain deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of those never willing to forget.