MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, visited more than 4,500 Marines here Oct. 3, welcoming them home from recent deployment. Cheney’s visit was less about his own appearance at the base and more about boosting morale and extending gratitude from the nation to Marines, some who arrived home as recent as last weekend from Iraq and other operations, including hurricane relief efforts on our own Gulf Coast.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment (3/25), a reserve unit based out of Ohio, many of whom returned Sept. 30, were among those highlighted during the visit.
"All of you are part of a team that continues to make history," Cheney said.
He also offered his gratitude on behalf of the nation to those who fought for freedom and especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, stating we “will honor their memory forever."
II MEF commanding officer, Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, welcomed Cheney and invited him to join in an award ceremony for II MEF Marines following the vice president’s address. Cheney pinned the Purple Heart on Cpl Shawn M. Johnson, a 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion Marine out of Oconee, S.C., Pfc. John C. Brian, Rapides, La., and Lance Cpl. Scott R. Calkins, of Genesee, N.Y., both out of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, and Daniel W. Foot, of Du Page, Ill., and Lance Cpl. James M. Howard from Franklin Furnace, Ohio, both members of 3/25.
Foot and Calkins each received a gold star in lieu of 2nd award of the Purple Heart.
The Purple Heart was established August 7, 1782 by General George Washington and is awarded for wounds received in action.
After his address, Cheney joined approximately 25 Marines for a luncheon, making a point to stop prior to his departure to greet Marines, sailors and their family members, signing autographs and shaking hands.
Also a part of his visit, Cheney greeted Marines and sailors from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 at Marine Corps Air Station New River. The unit recently home from hurricane rescue and relief efforts on the U.S. gulf coast. HMH-461 and other units who were recognized, including 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and elements of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, made up the more than 2,500 active-duty Marines and sailors who deployed in September to assist the storm-ravaged southern states. The units performed thousands of rescues, distributed much-needed supplies such as water, food and blankets, as well as other types of relief.
“It’s an honor to have him greet our Marines and sailors,” said Maj. Jeff Eichholz, 3/25 executive officer. “They completed a tough mission and did it well. Everyone returning from deployment should be recognized.”