Photo Information

Past and present Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment wheel out a traditional Marine Corps birthday cake during a cake-cutting ceremony at the Officer's Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct 13, 2006. The ceremony was part of a reunion that brought Leathernecks who served with 2/2 in the 1960's together with Marines currently in the unit. (Official USMC photo by Cpl. Jeremy Ross) (Released)

Photo by Cpl. Jeremy Ross

Reunion brings together past and present 'Warlords'

13 Oct 2006 | Cpl. Jeremy Ross

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.