ARLINGTON, Va. -- Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion-26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, took a break from training at Fort Pickett, Va., to make a very special trip to the Marine Corps War Memorial here.
The memorial can be a moving experience for any visitor, but it held special significance to the seven Marines who were promoted and 14 Marines who reenlisted in the Marine Corps.
The memorial depicts the late Joe Rosenthal's iconic photo of five Marines and a Navy Corpsman raising the American flag over Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Arantz, commanding officer of CLB-26, said holding the ceremony at the memorial was important for the Marines, especially since the book Flags of Our Fathers, an account of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, was being passed around the unit.
"It's like the holy grail for Marines," he said, adding that he thought it was important to introduce the Marines to the memorial which epitomizes their service.
Arantz said many of the Marines who reenlisted or were promoted were junior Marines and had never had the chance to travel to the capital to see the memorial in person, so when the proximity of the 26th MEU's training in Virginia gave the unit a chance to make a quick trip to the memorial, they took it.
Holding the event at the memorial made the ceremony memorable for both the Marines involved and family and friends who were able to attend.
Sergeant Warren B. Bubsey, intelligence chief for CLB-26, said his parents traveled 20 hours from Tallahassee, Fla. to see the ceremony. His father, Marine Lt. Col. (ret.) William E. Bubsey, was able to participate in the ceremony and looked on proudly as his son committed to another four years and four months in the Marine Corps.
"It was awesome; a once in a lifetime experience," said Warren Bubsy, following the ceremony.
Newly promoted Lance Cpl. Cheney D. Hubbert said she had recently read Flags of Our Fathers and being promoted at the memorial site made it memorable for her.
"It gave me an in-depth look at what the memorial's about," she said. "Most Marines are not afforded that opportunity, and it was an honor to be promoted there."
The 26th MEU is finishing its Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise and Training in an Urban Environment Exercise at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The MEU has completed roughly two-thirds of its rigorous, six-month predeployment training cycle intended to form the disparate elements of the MEU into a cohesive, rapid-reaction force capable of performing missions inside their area of operation within hours of receiving orders.
The MEU will continue to train for their upcoming 2007 deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
For more information on the 26th MEU, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu