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  • 2016
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines

By Sgt. Melissa Karnath, Defense Media Activity

Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., take photos of the grave marker for Lt. j.g. Weedon Osborne the only Medal of Honor recipient interred at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Osborne was a dentist who served as corpsman for the 6th Marine Regiment and was killed in action trying to carry an injured Marine to safety June 6, 1918.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., take photos of the grave marker for Lt. j.g. Weedon Osborne the only Medal of Honor recipient interred at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Osborne was a dentist who served as corpsman for the 6th Marine Regiment and was killed in action trying to carry an injured Marine to safety June 6, 1918.
Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., pause to reflect at the Marine Monument in the woods of Belleau, France May 26, 2016. The commanding general of the French 6th Army officially renamed Belleau Wood as “Wood of the Marine Brigade”, June 30, 1918.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., pause to reflect at the Marine Monument in the woods of Belleau, France May 26, 2016. The commanding general of the French 6th Army officially renamed Belleau Wood as “Wood of the Marine Brigade”, June 30, 1918.
Marines listen to Mr. Ray Shearer, a Marine veteran and director and chairman of American Oversees Memorial Day Association, explain different factors in the Battle of Belleau Wood during World War I, on the battle ground Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Marines observed trenches, depressions of fighting holes and enemy shelling on the battle ground.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Marines listen to Mr. Ray Shearer, a Marine veteran and director and chairman of American Oversees Memorial Day Association, explain different factors in the Battle of Belleau Wood during World War I, on the battle ground Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Marines observed trenches, depressions of fighting holes and enemy shelling on the battle ground.
Mr. Ray Shearer, a Marine veteran and director and chairman of American Oversees Memorial Day Association, points on a map while explaining the beginning of the Battle of Belleau Wood to more than 70 Marines on a professional military education trip in the country-side of Belleau, France, May 26, 2016.  Shearer also explained the Marines who took part in the battle arrived without adequate food, water, equipment or maps of the terrain and area.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Mr. Ray Shearer, a Marine veteran and director and chairman of American Oversees Memorial Day Association, points on a map while explaining the beginning of the Battle of Belleau Wood to more than 70 Marines on a professional military education trip in the country-side of Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Shearer also explained the Marines who took part in the battle arrived without adequate food, water, equipment or maps of the terrain and area.
Marines walk through the woods of Belleau, France observing a trench dug by Marines during World War I, May 26, 2016. Marine Corps University sponsored the five-day, professional military educational trip for Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Marines walk through the woods of Belleau, France observing a trench dug by Marines during World War I, May 26, 2016. Marine Corps University sponsored the five-day, professional military educational trip for Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., stand at attention during the evening colors ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Marines lowered the two American flags at the cemetery as the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save played from the cemetery chapel.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., stand at attention during the evening colors ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. Marines lowered the two American flags at the cemetery as the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save played from the cemetery chapel.
Lance Cpl. Escamilla Emmanuel, protocol clerk, drinks water from the Devil Dog Fountain in Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. More than 70 Marines walked in the footsteps of the original Devil Dogs while touring the battle fields of the Battle of Belleau Wood during a professional military education trip.
Walking in footsteps of WWI Marines
Lance Cpl. Escamilla Emmanuel, protocol clerk, drinks water from the Devil Dog Fountain in Belleau, France, May 26, 2016. More than 70 Marines walked in the footsteps of the original Devil Dogs while touring the battle fields of the Battle of Belleau Wood during a professional military education trip.
More than 70 Marines walked in the footsteps of the original Devil Dogs while touring the battlefields of the Battle of Belleau Wood, France, May 26, 2016, during a professional military education trip. 

Marine Corps University sponsored the five-day PME trip for Marines with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall, and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. After a full day of travel, a day in Paris and a day at Normandy, the Marines spent the fourth day at Belleau.

Led by Mr. Ray Shearer, a Marine veteran and director and chairman of the American Oversees Memorial Day Association, the day began at Les Mares Farm, in the countryside near the town of Belleau. Marines learned the Marines of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments arrived without adequate food, water, equipment or maps of the terrain and area. 

Marines continued the tour by bus then hiked from the roadside through a trail and local farm fields to Hill 142. With the trail leading into woods, Marines explored trenches that were once fighting positions for Marines during World War I. 

“There’s no better way to educate than by walking on the battlefield,” said Shearer. 

By bus, the next stop was a wheat field to continue learning about the battle. Throughout the day, three Marines each spoke about the heroic acts of Marines during the Battle of Belleau Wood.

From the wheat field, Marines walked down the road to a small town of Lucy le Bocage. From a hill in the town, a house in the distance of the countryside was pointed out as the headquarters for the 6th Marine Regiment. 

“Being able to walk and see some of these sights that still exist after almost 100 years,” said Cpl. Joshua Bettis, a distribution management office outbound counselor.  “To me it’s unbelievable; there’s still trenches dug out by the Marines who came before us.” 

After a short bus ride, the Marines continued the tour on foot, walking to the town of Bouresches, continuing along the edge of farm fields into the woods of Belleau. While in the woods, Marines paused to look at trenches, holes and impressions in the ground from fighting holes and enemy shelling. 

“For me I had goose bumps all day getting to see these places,” said Sgt. Curtis Dunham, operations noncommissioned officer in-charge, Administrative Resources Information.  

After hiking for more than an hour through the woods passing by a bunker and fortification, Marines stood in a clearing of Belleau Wood where the final attack of the battle took place. Marines took photos of the Marine Monument with a life-size sculpture of a World War I Marine surrounded by cannons. A tree with a huge knot also stands in the clearing. Under the knot is a shell which the tree has grown over. Marines also collected dirt, bark and leaves. 

From the Belleau Wood Marine Monument, Shearer led the Marines down a trail to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial where more than 2,200 American service members are interred. Each service member is honored with a white marble marker of a cross or Star of David. 

Marines had time to tour the chapel over looking each service member’s final resting place. Evening colors took place with Marines lowering two American flags as the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save, was sounded from the chapel, followed by God Bless America. 

“The colors ceremony is something I will never forget. To see the colors come down at Belleau Wood, I’ll never forget that,” said Dunham. “Being at the Belleau Wood Memorial and Cemetery gave me a tingle up my spine.” 

Following the path lined with neatly trimmed trees, bushes of flowers and immaculately cut, lush, green grass, Marines traveled to take a quick drink from the Devil Dog Fountain a short distance down the road.

“Our memories dim with time and the best way to honor the service members who fought here for freedom, our liberties and France is to educate our young troops today,” said Shearer.