Special Operations News

MARSOC Pauses to Honor the Fallen

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (CPT Barry Morris) – Marines and sailors throughout history are renowned for their ability to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.  The fact that Marines and sailors take care of their own, in life and in death, is a major contributor to their audacity and mission accomplishment.

With this in mind, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Clark, commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, in conjunction with the MARSOC Foundation, hosted ‘Honor the Fallen,’ a one-of-a-kind event, April 25, here, to honor all Marines, sailors and civilian Marines lost at home and abroad since MARSOC’s inception.

“The unconquerable spirit, spiritus invictus, words that mean something to many, words that mean everything to a few.  Today is about remembering and honoring those who embraced and lived those words with the utmost passion here at MARSOC,” Clark said during the ceremony.

“Honor the Fallen is about honoring and reflecting upon the memory and life of all of our fallen MARSOC Marines and sailors to include all civilians who have served with MARSOC in any capacity, and the remarkable contributions they made in serving our great nation, protecting our freedom and liberties,” said Kristin Smith, the Family Readiness Officer for MARSOC headquarters.  “We are remembering and honoring all of our fallen with the respect they so much deserve.”

The intent of this ceremony was also to fortify the relationship between MARSOC and the families of all of its fallen Marines, sailors and civilian Marines.

“The individual sacrifices our Marines, sailors and civilian Marines and their families have made is extremely important for MARSOC to recognize.  As equally important, is recognizing the sacrifices the families have made in supporting their Marine or sailor over the course of their service to the Navy and Marine Corps, and especially their coping with the loss of a loved one,” said the director of MARSOC’s Preservation of the Forces and Family program.

During the ceremony, a final roll call of the names of 45 Marines, sailors and civilians was called out, with no reply.

A set of identification tags commemorating each Marine, sailor and civilian Marines was carried out by Marines and sailors as the names of the fallen were read and the bell rang.  Marines and sailors paused, took a knee and gently hung the fallen’s dog tags on the Honor the Fallen memorial, and rendered a salute before departing.

The design of the Honor the Fallen memorial resembles a specially designed pin and was created specifically for the occasion.  “This exclusive memorial was designed out of love, loyalty, and is a tribute the legacy of our fallen,” explained Clark.

The pin itself was hand crafted and designed with a great deal of reflection and compassion, and each family of the fallen received the one-of-a-kind pin. “It is important to understand the remarkable Marines, sailors, civilians Marines and families represented in the pin,” noted Clark.

The backdrop of the pin is a spear, representing the best of the best, the first and finest in combat, the rich and storied heritage of Special Operations Command (SOCOM). “Like SOCOM, our brothers and sisters of MARSOC are special and unique,” said Clark.

The Eagle, Globe and Anchor, the cherished symbol of the U.S. Marine Corps, is central to the design of the pin, “just as our Marine identity is central to our lives,” noted Clark.  “Marines earn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, which makes them Marines for life; and by extension, you have earned your place, through your sacrifice and support, as our Marine families for life,” explained Clark to the families of the fallen.

Wrapping the spear is an infinity symbol made of purple ribbon. “This is a symbol of the enduring impact your loved one had on MARSOC. It reminds us of the lifelong, infinite bond that unites us as the MARSOC family through the unconquerable spirit,” said Clark. “The purple in the ribbon calls to mind the expensive and rare nature of the color itself in history, that of which we treasure and value, of remembrance of the most significant people [our loved ones], and renowned life.”

“During this ceremony, as we display the dog tags and ring the bell, spiritus invictus, resounds through each of us. Let us remember and celebrate the good times as well as shared and memories made,” professed Clark. “Let us cherish these memories every day we get up and move forward on our journey in life. It is these memories that remind us of who we are, and what our young ones want to become, as we navigate along our journey together as the lifelong MARSOC family.”

The MARSOC memorial and all identification tags will be kept on display inside the MARSOC headquarters as a way of always honoring those lost.

“Honor the Fallen would not have been possible if it weren’t for the tremendous support and resilience displayed by the MARSOC Foundation, to include the Marines and sailors currently assigned to MARSOC who ensured this was a memorable event for the families,” said Smith.

The MARSOC Foundation was established to provide benevolent support to active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families as well as to the families of Marines and sailors who have lost their lives in service to our Nation.

“The Foundation places an emphasis on building personal and family resiliency and supporting the full reintegration of MARSOC Marines and sailors following wounds, injuries and extended deployments,” explained Sarah Christian, director of operations for the MARSOC Foundation.

In addition to the Honor the Fallen ceremony held at the MARSOC headquarters, the MARSOC Foundation unveiled a mobile memorial wall that displays all the pictures and bios of MARSOC’s fallen.

The significance of the mobile memorial wall is to honor the Marines, sailors and civilian Marines who lost their lives while serving with MARSOC, as well as to honor their families, sharing their stories with as wide of an audience as possible.

“The hope is that people will see the wall, reflect upon the service and sacrifice of these men & women and their families, and hopefully try to learn more about each of them,” said Christian.  “The MARSOC Foundation also hopes that it will remind the American public that even though military missions are not being talked about on the news, there are still brave men and women stationed throughout the world protecting our country and our freedom.”

“People live their lives wondering and hoping that they will be noticed, that they matter, that they can be a part of something special and greater than us individually, that they can be a member of a team and family that shares a special bond, and that as part of that team they made a difference, and finally…that they will be remembered,” said Clark.

The MARSOC commander concluded the ceremony with this final thought, “as our journey together continues, today is about our promise to 45 special people in our lives, that they made a difference, they mattered, that they will be remembered and will always hold a coveted place in our hearts,” concluded Clark.

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