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Sergeant Major William T. Sowers, the 1st Marine Division sergeant major, speaks with two Vietnam veterans that are members of the 1st Mar. Div. Association during their 68th annual reunion, aboard Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 20, 2015. During the reunion, veterans visited their old stomping grounds and reminisced about their days serving in the division, while also observing the capabilities of today’s Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan/RELEASED)

Photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan

Once a Marine always a Marine: 1st Marine Division honors veterans

21 Aug 2015 | Cpl. Demetrius Morgan 1st Marine Division

Reunions within the Marine Corps provide a setting for generations of Marines to interact and share experiences with one another. On Aug. 18-22, 2015, the 1st Marine Division Association hosted their 68th annual reunion in order to honor Marines and Sailors of the unit who served valiantly in their time.

The 1st Marine Division Association is an organization, which actively supports those who currently serve and have served in the Blue Diamond. Their primary mission is to unite Marines and veterans as a ‘Family of Warriors,’ providing them an opportunity to share the qualities that set them apart as warfighters. 

Sustaining and building upon the relationship between generations of service members is something the Marine Corps makes a priority. Consequently, the Marine Corps pays tribute to those heroes, past and present, in as many ways as possible.

“I can speak for all the Marines when I say how much we appreciate you guys coming out here and that we take a lot away from you guys,” said Sgt. Maj. William T. Sowers, the 1st Marine Division sergeant major. “We are an all-volunteer force that joined based on the foundations you all set for us. We can’t thank you guys enough.” 
 
During the reunion, veterans visited their old stomping grounds and reminisced about their days serving in the division. As they recounted these memories, Marines highlighted the changes to the Corps through demonstrating their various capabilities. 

“I had never seen anything like this before,” said John Mialhes, a Vietnam veteran who served with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. “You guys are really top notch. We didn’t have this kind of training when I was in. Our country is in good hands.”      
 
Although equipment and training may have evolved over the years, the essence of being a Marine, both in combat and in garrison remained in-tact throughout the years.
   
“You can still see the combat spirit in their eyes,” said Mialhes. “I think we will always be advancing in the ways that we fight, but that combat mentality Marines have will always be the same to me.”
 
From the warriors of yesteryear, to the warfighters of today, the 1st Marine Division Association, celebrating almost 75 years of excellence, honors all who served in the prestigious Blue Diamond division.