MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Tears were shed, hearts were uplifted, and even a few smiles were cracked Oct. 31 when, in loving memory and remembrance, Marines and sailors from the Combat Center who have made the ultimate sacrifice were honored during the 4th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Service at the Sunset Cinema.
“It was to remember and honor those individuals from this base that didn’t come home and gave their lives for this country,” said Lt. Terry L. Moran, a battalion chaplain with the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School.
The ceremony opened with the playing of the Marines’ Hymn and the marching on of the colors before an opening prayer led by Lt. Cmdr. Emile G. Moured, the deputy director of the Religious Ministries Directorate.
After the prayer concluded, Alex Pacheco, the director of the Combat Center’s Business Performance Office, and 1st Lt. Christopher Motz, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, read passages from the bible before Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Wade, a chaplain with Headquarters and Service Company, 7th Marine Regiment presented his pastoral reflection.
To begin the reflection Wade opened with a question.
“Why are you here?” asked Wade.
Wade’s advice to those in attendence was to remember that God places people in a time and place for a purpose, and for those who were angry and looking for a resolution, Wade reflected on the words of a Marine who once told his family not to be angry if anything were to happen to him, because it was his decision to serve.
Sgt. Michael Washington, who was one of the many fallen heroes honored at the event, served because of self sacrifice and a want to aid people who couldn’t help themselves, said Wade.
“I’m here because I just want to say thanks to the sailors and Marines who we honored here today,” said Wade, who ended his reflection by expressing his wish that people leave the memorial no longer angry, but uplifted.
Pacheco, a retired sergeant major, said he was in attendance because it was the least he could do to honor the Marines who were recognized.
“My reason for being there was to recognize their service and sacrifice for our freedoms,” said Pacheco, a native of Deming, N.M.
Pacheco said he was honored to have known and worked with Sgt. Andy A. Stevens, who was another fallen hero recognized at the event, and believes those Marines who didn’t attend the service missed out on a great event.
“They missed a great opportunity to share a common bond with their fellow Marines in honoring their fallen comrades,” he said.
Once Wade’s reflection ended, those in attendance sat in silence as chaplains from throughout the Combat Center read the names aloud of those Marines and sailors being honored, as their faces were shown on the cinema’s main screen.
To end the service a procession of Marines placed 15 candles on the main stage as “Amazing Grace” was bag piped in remembrance of the Combat Center’s finest.