OKINAWA, Japan – The day before Thanksgiving, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, an impressive unit of the United States Marine Corps, held their annual Warrior Challenge, which honors Marines from the battalion who have been killed in action.
The day started at 5:30 a.m. and consisted of a nine-mile ruck with several stations throughout the course that challenged these Marines physically and mentally.
Each station incorporated either tests of knowledge or practical applications that are pivotal to success in the reconnaissance field. At one of the stations, Marines had to complete weapons disassembly/assembly, which consisted of taking apart and reassembling four different weapons systems. Another station that tested the Marines was the boat challenge, which was key considering such skills are the backbone of amphibious reconnaissance. Six-man teams had to row a far distance in the water and come back to land the boat on the beach. Communications was also an interesting station, where Marines had to program a radio to the correct frequency and make contact with the central hub.
The Warrior Challenge ended with the Marines running to the finish line and touching a memorial with the names of their fallen comrades.
The special operations side of the military is quite intriguing. It may be their tangible sense of camaraderie, their incredible strength, or their vulnerability when speaking about the ones who have come before them, but the Marines of 3d Recon were an inviting crew, making it feel like being close to home before Thanksgiving — even though they were far from it.
Reconnaissance is like nothing else the Marine Corps has to offer. They dress, talk and communicate as Marines, and each and every one of them has a special bond and they have each other’s back like few other brotherhoods. Whenever a Marine would fall behind or run out of breath, the names they carried on their backs motivated them to keep pushing. “Every time I think I’m tired, I just think about the Marine that we’re honoring and think of it as, we’re doing this for him,” said Sgt. Bolivar Guillen, a career planner for 3d Reconnaissance Battalion. “If he were out here, he’d be doing this for me.”
“The brotherhood in the recon community is everything to me. I’ve been a reconnaissance Marine for 22 years. It’s the reason I wake up in the morning, show up to work and be surrounded by some of the most elite guys who serve in this country,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Mariota Pa’u, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion’s Operations and Training Chief. “I love you guys,” Pa’u said to his Marines.
Throughout the day, the love and passion for what it means to be a warrior was shared by every Marine. Going into the challenge, it wasn’t clear whether they would appreciate the spotlight shining down on them, the swift, silent, deadly part of the Marine Corps. But, they only showed admiration for their fellow Marine, these elite members of our United States military.