NEW YORK --
When the Marines and sailors of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 stepped out of their vans in the parking lot of the Staten Island Marine Corps League, Nov. 3, they were enthusiastically welcomed with handshakes from members of the club, themselves Marines from older generations.
After gathering inside, the Marines instantly became at ease with one another, trading sea stories like one from a retired lieutenant for the New York Fire Dept who was wounded at the Battle of Iwo Jima with a gunshot wound to the right forearm and a piece of shrapnel to the face.
“I’ll tell ‘ya, it didn’t feel too good, but anyway, I survived,” said Nick Troianiello. “Every day you get out of bed is a gift. As long as you have good health and so forth, you can’t complain.”
All of the stories traded that day intrigued the physician assigned to SPMATF-26, who also said she was impressed by the atmosphere in the building, decorated with Marine Corps-related artifacts on every wall.
“Until this point in your life, you’ve only read about this stuff. Now you get to actually talk to people who’ve lived it, and that’s an incredible honor,” said Lt. Cmdr. Stephanie Bragg.
A former Marine corporal and retired civil servant was grateful to spend the day with the SPMAGTF-26 Marines. Sean T. Cosgriff takes pride knowing that SPMAGTF-26 Marines are supporting the commissioning of USS New York, considering it was forged out of 7 1/2 tons of steel from the World Trade Center after 9/11, a day he was in New York.
After lunch, when the Marines of yesterday and today dined together, the Marines had a traditional cake cutting ceremony to recognize the Marine Corps’ upcoming birthday. Sgt. Maj. Allen L. Tanner, SPMAGTF-26 sergeant major, cut the cake and served it to the youngest Marine at the event, Lance Cpl. Joshua Treon, a field radio operator with the unit.
Being the youngest Marine and getting the first piece of cake from the sergeant major was an awesome experience, said Treon.
“The brotherhood stays strong,” he added.