MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Rows of battlefield crosses solemnly lined Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field Oct. 15 during a memorial ceremony dedicated to the 74 men lost during to Regimental Combat Team 7’s recent deployment to Afghanistan.
From October 24, 2009 to September 28, 2010, units attached to RCT-7 lost 70 Marines, three sailors, and one British journalist to the war overseas.
Seventy-three helmets were placed on 73 rifles while 73 dog tags hung over 73 new boots. There was a single white cross in the midst of them all, with a British flag placed beside it, a quiet reminder the United States is not alone in this war.
“The battlefield cross – its purpose, to show honor and respect for the fallen at the battle sight,” stated a narrator of the service. “Today its immediate need is to show respect for the fallen among the still living members of the unit.”
Regimental Commander Col. Randy P. Newman rose and spoke of the honor these 74 men showed on the battlefield.
“We pay tribute today to what these men gave, lives cut short but not unfulfilled,” Newman said. “Each man gave their lives in a noble effort to give back to the people of Afghanistan so they can determine their future and to increase the security of our own nation.”
As he spoke, the 74 "crosses" behind him held a reminder for every Marine in attendance of what it means to fight alongside one another to complete the Corps’ mission.
“Once the first drop of blood was shed by a Marine in Afghanistan, we became committed to remaining there for however long our nation desires there,” Newman said.
“Our Corps will remain there and will fight because that is what we do. They went on to the battlefield with the full understanding that we were 100 percent committed to what we were there for.
“The only way that any of these men would have died in vain is if we give up in the effort that is currently succeeding in Afghanistan,” Newman said.