ARLINGTON, Va. --
In America’s history, there have been times when heroes were forged from all walks of life and brought together to accomplish a task larger than themselves.
Surviving members of Company “H”, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines from all over the country gathered for a remembrance ceremony, held at the Marine Corps War Memorial in the heat and humidity of Arlington, Va., Sept. 3.
“It is the goal of any captain to lead his Marines into battle and I got the honor of leading Hotel Company,” said Lt. Col. Charles O. Broughton, Ret., who served as the commanding officer of the company during the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968.
The War Memorial immortalizes the iconic scene of the Flag Raising of Iwo Jima made famous by photographer Joe Rosenthal. To the Marines of Company “H,” the Iwo Jima Memorial reflects the hard fought struggle of their unit to take the Island of Iwo Jima some 40 years before they carried the battle colors during the Vietnam War.
“1945 may seem like a distant memory,” Broughton said. “Look at the helmets and the K-Bar knives, they had not changed much during our time in the 1960’s.”
Broughton recalled few of the men, who did not make it home, chronicling their experiences and their heroism. The lives of a corpsman, a chaplain and a combat photographer and numerous warriors, who gave the measure of their lives.
“It is a honor to share in this day,” said Rear Adm. Brent W. Scott, the Chaplain of the United States Marine Corps. “ This past year, I have travelled the world hearing stories about courage.
“Courage is bold and bright and pushes through fear to achieve a purpose greater than yourself,” Scott continued. “Not only does [the company] have the courage to serve, but the courage to remember.”
The company was activated at Camp Pendleton, California and was deactivated after serving four years of the Vietnam War. In 1967, the 26th Marines stood against a surrounding communist force during the siege of Khe Sanh. The unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the Battle of Khe Sanh.
“We joined today to not only celebrate accomplishments during the war but the strength it took to deal with the animosity they received after coming home,” Scott said.
When Scott concluded his remarks, the ceremony closed with a wreath laying at the memorial. Both Broughton and Scott presented the wreath as the 74 names of the Marines and sailors who did not come home were read allowed and accompanied by the ring of a ship’s gong.
“Their images burn into our soul,” Broughton said. “We were honored to serve with them, and there is no greater tribute we can give to these men than remembering their duty.”