MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Retired Cpl. J.V. Rodriguez, was in Oceanside, Calif., when he spotted a young Marine, fresh out of boot camp. He walked toward the new graduate of the Marine Recruiting Depot shook his hand and said, “You are my brother.”
This is the camaraderie that polees hear prior to joining the Marine Corps and it is the camaraderie that still stays strong with the members of the “Forgotten Battalion” today. The commanding general of the Combat Center spoke with these men and their families over dinner Saturday.
Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, Commanding General, MCAGCC, and his wife, Donna, attended the reunion dinner of the ‘Forgotten Battalion’ in Palm Springs.
The dinner reunited more than just the Marines of the battalion.
Family members of unit member, living and deceased, attended and were surrounded by love and support of the Forgotten Battalion family.
Berger spoke with both unit members and the family members, describing the experience as an honor.
“Joining you this evening is more of an honor, more of a privilege than you can imagine,” Berger said. “Watching you all, listening to you call was really rewarding.”
Berger went on to thank the families for the sacrifices they’ve made for the sake of the Marine Corps and how their strength was and invaluable asset.
After the dinner, Berger was presented an award from the Forgotten Battalion family.
“It meant so much to us that the general with his busy(schedule), would take the time to honor us with his presence,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Ray V. Wilburn, a ‘Forgotten Battalion’ member.
The gesture was reciprocated as Berger went around the room shaking the hands of each of the ‘Forgotten Battalion’ members and their families, passing along to them a challenge coin to remember him by.
“Tonight while we’re having dinner there are still about 7,000 Marines in Afghanistan. I remember that every night when I sit down to eat because we are able to enjoy a great meal,” Berger said during his final remarks. “To see the shoulders we stand on in front of us is pretty humbling.”