CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- First Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, earned the nickname “The Walking Dead” in Vietnam for the high number of casualties it sustained in some of the toughest fighting of the war. More than 50 years later, the time of the “The Walking Dead” ended during a ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 29, 2014.
The ceremony commemorated the battalion’s storied legacy dating back to World War II and the Vietnam War, and built by the sacrifices of thousands who served in the unit.
“These Marines are part of something bigger than themselves,” said Lt. Col. Corey Collier, a Gallatin, Tennessee native and the commanding officer of 1st Bn., 9th Marines. “The battalion is a living entity with its own reputation that’s built upon the people who served in it.”
While only approximately 230 Marines remained assigned to the battalion at the time of the ceremony, many of its former members participated to ensure the formation was filled the Battalion’s Marines. Veterans of “The Walking Dead” from the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and current wars also attended the ceremony.
“I told the Marines being with [1st Bn., 9th Marines] means something,” said Collier. “Having the veterans here reinforces that point. Even the ones who were only with the unit for a year or two recognize, 50 years later, that it was a highlight in their lives, and it will be the same for the Marines today.”
Collier stood with former commanders as the battalion marched in review and the unit received a standing ovation from “Dead Walkers” – past and present – and their families. He then saluted and rolled the colors one last time with the battalion sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Irvin Howard.
“It’s bittersweet, but it’s just a matter of time before they unfurl the colors and activate the unit again,” said Collier. “The next time, they will be telling their Marines they owe it to those who came before them to carry the name with pride. When they say that, they’ll be talking about the Marines who are right here.”