MARSOC Reflects on 9/11, GWOT
FORT BRAGG, NC – As Americans across the country paused to remember and reflect on lives lost on 9/11, a small group of Marines from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command carried out their own unique commemoration. Joining several Army Rangers and an assortment of firefighters and policemen from across N.C., Georgia and Florida, three MARSOC Marines biked more than 400 miles in honor of their fallen SOCOM brothers during the annual Operation One Voice Honor Ride.
The five-day trek stretched from U.S. Army Special Operations Command Headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C. to Lake Lanier Island, Georgia. The riders traversed nearly 150-miles on the first day alone, averaging about 15 miles per hour.
“It’s a great way to pay tribute,” said Maj. Tom Burgett, one of the participating MARSOC Marines. “It also directly benefits the families of special operators affected by the Global War on Terrorism – it’s a way to generate fundraising and visibility for Operation One Voice within the community.”
The Honor Ride is sponsored by Operation One Voice, a non-profit organization that raises money to aid the families of wounded or fallen special operators, while simultaneously paying tribute to SOF heroes. This year, the ride was dedicated to Army Ranger and Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry. The ride honored fallen Marine Capt. Joshua S. Meadows last year.
“It’s incredible to see the support and impact that the community can have,” said Maj. Tom Burgett, one of the participating MARSOC Marines. “The cheers we encountered were very heartfelt. It sends a clear message that Americans appreciate our sacrifice.”
The ride culminated in Duluth, Georgia, where 70 civilians, four special operations forces amputees, and Marine Maj. Gen. Mark A. Clark, the Chief of Staff of SOCOM, joined the cyclists in the last 25-mile stretch of the ride to Lake Lanier Island.
The next day was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. At the Duluth city hall, the cyclists took part in a ceremony that saw the unveiling of a memorial statue honoring native public servants and military service members past and present, before a crowd of roughly 2,000 people.
“I think it reinvigorated the cyclists,” said Burgett. “We saw that after ten years, America has not forgotten.”
MARSOC formally paid its respects to its fallen warriors and the victims of 9/11 in several ceremonies throughout the month. Lt. Col. Darren Duke, the commander of 3d MSOB, addressed his Marines at a ceremony Sept. 7.
“Remember the lost and the fallen,” said Duke. “Many were the innocent victims who died and many more were those who paid the ultimate price in our military and intelligence response to these attacks.”
Duke also urged consideration of the outcome of their sacrifices.
“Remember what we’ve done and achieved militarily in this war,” he said. “Tactically, we have done magnificently.”
Aboard Camp Pendleton, Marines with 1st MSOB commemorated their fallen brothers by unveiling of a new memorial Sept. 16.
Among those present were Maj. Gen Paul E. Lefebvre, commander of MARSOC, Lt. Col. Michael A. Brooks, commander of 1st MSOB, and several surviving U.S. Marine Raiders.
Maj. Gen. Lefebvre also paid tribute to the victims of 9/11 at a brief ceremony at MARSOC Headquarters Sept. 12.
“As in all we do, [the future of this war] will be challenging,” said Lefebvre. “It will require leaders that understand purpose and will not be deterred in the execution of their duties. It will take continued sacrifice on our part. But it is my sense that both our civilians and our military component hear the proverbial trumpet.”
The ceremony at MARSOC Headquarters concluded with the raising of morning colors, a daily occurrence aboard all military installations, but given new import as the colors climbed over a formation of Marines and rippled across the names of MARSOC’s fallen on the reflective black marble surface of the MARSOC Memorial. September’s ceremonies were solemn reminders of the cost of freedom, and of the debt owed to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect it.