A new Vietnam War memorial was dedicated at Camp Pendleton in California on Monday, recognizing the ultimate sacrifice made by over 2,700 U.S. Marines.
The 5th Marine Regiment deployed to Vietnam as the war effort was ramping up in 1966 and remained in the country for the next five years, engaging in some of the conflict’s fiercest battles.
The Fighting 5th lost a total of 2,706 Marines during the war and their names all appear on the marble walls of the new memorial.
Former Marine Lieutenant Steve Colwell, 74, and Nick Warr, 72 — both Vietnam veterans who fought with the 5th — oversaw the years-long fundraising efforts and the designing of the memorial, the Orange County Register reported.
Colwell told KSWB-TV of those he served with in the war, “In the 60s, they raised their hand and they answered the call of duty when 16 million of their peers stepped sideways or backwards.”
“They put on a pack and went 10,000 miles away from home. They fought in rice paddies and jungles and monsoons and terrible conditions and they gave all they had and all they would ever have,” he added.
During his keynote address at the dedication of the memorial on Monday, Warr said, “The legacy of the Fighting Fifth Marines during the Vietnam War is unmatched.”
“This new monument is a testament to all those who did not come home, and will serve as a legacy, going forward into the future, for all those wonderful young Marines on active duty. Today you will see that the Marines and sailors on these stones are assembled in their last battalion formations,” he continued.
“They fought together in units, and they will stand guard over this place as a unit. We will never forget them.”
— Travis Rice (@traviscrice) May 29, 2018
Those gathered for Monday’s service included 250 Gold Star families, hundreds of Vietnam War veterans and top brass from the 5th Regiment and 1st Marine Division, according to the Register.
Major Gen. Eric Smith, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, offered some advice to attendees during his remarks at the dedication.
“Take 15 minutes today to talk to one of the veterans who fought for you and for our Constitution,” he said.
Smith added, “Go to the wall and ask them, ‘Do you have someone on the wall?’ Ask them to point out the name and touch it. Ask them, ‘Who was this Marine or sailor? What did they love? Why did they fight? Where are they from? How’d they die?’ Break out your iPhone and record it in your notes so you’ll always have it on Memorial Day.”
“So 20 years from now, you can say, ‘I know that Marine or sailor. Otherwise what will happen is people will walk by and see that beautiful memorial, run their hands on it and say, ‘Boy, I wonder who those guys were.’”
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