MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- From the first moment a recruit hesitantly shuffles onto the yellow
footprints at a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, it is ingrained into his or her head that a major strength of the Corps is its
diverse and proud history. One of the most effective ways to keep the Corps' illustrious traditions alive is to create
opportunities for Marines from past generations to interact with the current crop of Leathernecks.
More than 50 Marines from the 'Warlords' of Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary
Unit, gathered at the Officers' Club here, Oct. 13, for an evening of food and fellowship with former and retired Marines who
had served with 2/2 in the past.
Nearly 80 past Marines, whose ranks ranged from private first class to colonel, were present at the event to give their
younger comrades a glimpse of the unit's history.
Throughout the evening, which featured a cocktail hour, dinner, and cake-cutting ceremony, the present-day Marines exchanged
stories and experiences with their predecessors.
"It's a great way to learn more about the old Corps," said Pvt. Josh A. Graham, a rifleman with Company G, BLT 2/2. "The
stories they had to share with us were really interesting."
The former Marines present at the event were part of a loose association of men who served with 2/2 in the 1960's.
The process of organizing the reunions began with a couple of old buddies making contact on the internet, and grew into an
organization that counts retired Gen. Walter E. Boomer, former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, among its more than
150 members, said retired Col. Al Jennings.
The reunion here marked the fourth time the group of past Marines had convened to renew friendships with each other.
"It's all about being a Marine," he said. "The bonds we had back then, you find that they're stronger than ever before."
In addition to getting a chance to re-establish old ties with each other, the former Marines were proud to have the chance to
interact and swap tales and knowledge with today's Marines, said Tommy Ragonese, a Browning Automatic Rifleman who got out of
the Marine Corps as a lance corporal in the early 1960s.
"It's good to see that the Corps is still the Corps," he explained. "You always worry that [the Marine Corps] will lose a
step, but heck, these guys have gained a step on us."
"The Marine Corps is in good hands," he continued.
Battalion Landing Team 2/2, is the ground combat element of the 26th MEU. The MEU is currently more than half-way through
the six-month pre-deployment training program that will prepare the unit for a deployment in support of the Global War on
Terrorism, scheduled for early 2007.
For more on the 26th MEU, including videos, news updates and contact information, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.