MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines and sailors of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation during a ceremony held in honor of 2nd MEB, here, Sept. 14.
The 28,000 Marines and sailors who served in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 earned the unit’s second Presidential Unit Citation, the highest award given to a unit in the United States military. The unit earned their first award in 2003, in Iraq.
Honorable guests in attendance included Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Michael P. Barrett.
Mabus presented the battle streamer to 2nd MEB during the ceremony, placing the new ribbon on the unit’s battle standard.
Major General Lawrence D. Nicholson, who served as the 2nd MEB commanding general and Sgt. Maj. Ernest K. Ho’opi’i who served as sergeant major for 2nd MEB in Afghanistan from January of 2009 to June 2010 of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Task Force Leatherneck, accepted the nation’s highest unit award on behalf of the Marine and sailor of 2nd MEB.
“The skill, the professionalism, the devotion and the heroics of this unit cannot be overstated and neither can their accomplishments,” said Mabus. “I’m honored to be here.”
According to Mabus, the Marines of 2nd MEB were not only great warriors who struck at the heart of the Taliban insurgency, but they also built schools, helped to train Afghan forces, used female engagement teams and left not only a safer place, but a place governed by the rule of law.
“I have gone to Helmand province and places like Marjah – you can walk to the market now,” Mabus said. “You see kids playing everywhere, [people] going to the market and buying things. It’s a very safe environment, and it’s all because of the skill and courage of this unit.”
For many Marines in attendance, the ceremony wasn’t about personal recognition. It was an tribute for who did not return.
“There are a lot of times on a day-to-day basis that my friends aren’t recognized,” said Cpl. Aaron M. San Miguel, a squad leader with Echo Co., 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, who deployed with 2nd MEB. “I’ll be able to wear this ribbon because of their sacrifices and the time we shared over there. Granted, they didn’t make it home but they still earned one and I’ll be able to wear it for them. Every time I wear it, other Marines and people will know that we all did it together.”