MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center is hosting the fourth annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Service in memory of the Twentynine Palms Marines and sailors who have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan Oct. 31 at the Sunset Cinema.
The memorial service was created four years ago by Capt. Conrad Targonski, who wanted to create a way to recognize the Marines he served with.
The service, which is open to all personnel aboard the Combat Center, is a chance to recognize and pay tribute to Marines and sailors who sacrificed their life while engaged in the war on terrorism, said Lt. Cmdr. Steven E. Hicks, the Combat Center’s catholic chaplain.
“These are people we know,” said Hicks. “These are our friends and co-workers that have died in this war. It is going to be an emotional day for a lot of those who are coming.”
This year the event had to be moved from the Catholic Chapel to Sunset Cinema to accommodate the growing number of attendees and make the event more open to nonreligious personnel.
“We used to hold the event as a catholic service,” said Hicks, a St. Angelo, Texas, native. “This year we decided to move it to the theater to make it more of a base-wide event.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Arp, a religious program specialist at the Catholic
Chapel, thought moving the event was a good idea to make it more accessible for those wishing to attend.
“This is not just for catholics, it is for everybody who knew someone who was killed in the war,” said Arp. “Not everybody is catholic, and not all the fallen service members were catholic, so we moved it to the theater.”
The service will be held at 1 p.m. and will have chaplains from every unit read out the names of 137 service members. Each name will be followed by a ring of a bell and a moment of silence.
As each name is read, a picture of the Marine or sailor will be presented on a slideshow with his rank, name and unit.
“This is a great way to teach people to never forget those who have fallen,” said Arp, a San Bernardino, Calif., native. “I know Marines naturally have an extremely tight bond between themselves, but I want to make sure they know that we care for their fallen brothers too.”
In support of the memorial service, the Combat Center Band will be providing a brass quintet and a bugle for taps. Maj. Sean Smith, with Mojave Viper, will also play “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes.
As the service comes to a close, a procession of Marines and sailors carrying 15 candles will move to the front of the theater to represent the 15 units from the base that have service members presently deployed, or have deployed in support of the war.
Light refreshments will be available after the ceremony. For more information contact Hicks or Alice-Ann Patu at (760) 830-4490.