MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Veterans with Detachment 310, Three Rivers Leatherneck, Marine Corps League Inc., traveled from Pittsburgh to visit Marines of the Wounded Warrior Barracks, Jan. 12.
The veterans offered greetings and brought the recovering Marines autographed copies of the book “Once a Marine” and shirts with an editorial cartoon of a child at a grave marker with an American flag captioned “Thank you”.
The most personal gift the Marines received were Semper Fi Eagle Walking Sticks, handcrafted by a former machine gunner stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Bill Howrilla.
“I was honored to come and do this for the Wounded Warriors. We offered this as a thank you for their sacrifice and devotion,” Howrilla said.
Founder of the Wounded Warrior Barracks, Lt. Col. Timothy A. Maxwell, spoke on behalf of the Marines, admitting that their biggest loss comes in absence of their first duties.
“All our Marines will tell you the same, the biggest price we paid was being brought back home,” Maxwell said, describing how the young Marines frequently express their desire to return to the fight against terrorism.
Marine Corps League member Joe Wadlow, co-founder of the Fallen Marine Memorial Run, said it was important to make the trip from Pennsylvania so he could present a plaque to Michael Henry Miles, father of Sgt. Sean H. Miles, who served with some of the Wounded Warriors.
Miles was killed in action by small arms fire in Karmah, Iraq, Jan. 24, 2006, while conducting combat operations with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
“It’s tough dealing with losing your buddies in combat,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon Love, a former rifleman with Co. F, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines. “It’s just as tough for families to endure a loss. I look up to families like Miles’ because instead of being riddled with bitterness, they still look out for Marines by giving back to the Corps and providing support.”
Miles and his wife were named honorary Marines by the Marine Corps League. With many of Miles family members still serving active duty, he spoke of his continuing support to the Corps.
“My son died going into a field of fire to help his fellow Marines. You all paid a heavy price for the freedom we enjoy, and all I can tell you is you’ll never be alone,” Miles said.
Co-founder of the Fallen Marine Memorial run Jerry Vanasdale, formerly assigned to 8th Engineer Support Bn., 2nd Force Service Support Group (now 2nd Marine Logistics Group), along with Wadlow, named their first event, which is a large motorcycle ride and benefit concert, in honor of Sgt. Miles.
Vanasdale said his experience returning to Camp Lejeune was incredible, and the Marine Corps League hopes to come back more often to visit the Wounded Warrior Barracks.