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Col. Thomas J. Gordon, the commanding officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, speaks to II MHG Marines, sailors and families at the conclusion of the “Praetorian Challenge” field meet aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 10, 2014. “My intent is to build the most cohesive, combat-ready unit possible,” said Gordon. “In short of combat, the best way to build cohesion is through competition. So we wanted to get the battalions together so they can come forward and lay out their best, and see who will walk away with the Praetorian shield.” (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elizabeth A. Case/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Elizabeth Case

Modern day Praetorians: II MHG unites during group competition

10 Oct 2014 | Cpl. Elizabeth A. Case II MEF Headquarters Group

“A Praetorian dates back to the Roman days,” said Col. Thomas J. Gordon, the commanding officer of II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “[They] were the guards of the commanding general, and later the emperor. The [unit] crest calls us the Praetorians. We are the eyes, the ears and the shield of the commanding general.” 

In the spirit of that tradition, Marines, sailors and families with II MHG, participated in a “Praetorian Challenge” field meet at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 10. “My intent is to build the most cohesive, combat-ready unit possible,” said Gordon. “In short of combat, the best way to build cohesion is through competition. So we wanted to get the battalions together, so they can come forward and lay out their best, and see who will walk away with the Praetorian shield.” The meet pushed the participants to increase readiness by going back to their warrior roots, noted Gordon. More than just ancient warrior traditions, the event challenged participants to call upon their warrior’s will. “Some of these events call for skill, but more importantly these events call for will,” said Gordon. “Will is what decides all of the battles that have gone on since antiquity. What I’m hoping for today is that the Marines will reach in deep and find that inner competitive spirit to push forward and take home the trophy. We were careful to pick the events. All of the events were strictly warrior events. There’s no volleyball here, there’s no water polo … [They’re doing] all of those typical Marine Corps field meet events, but with a warrior’s spirit.” The warrior events varied from rock climbing, tire flipping, and a 7-ton truck pull, to tug-of-war and pugil stick fights. It was also a great way to break away from the normal work routine, added Lance Cpl. Larry Bird, an administrative specialist with 8th Communication Battalion, II MEF. “I’d have to say the 7-ton pull [was my favorite event],” said Bird. “With [inspections] coming up, we’ve been working until 7:30 p.m. getting ready. I like this event because it gives a lot of the Marines a chance to relax.” After hours of heavy competition, the Marines of 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II MHG, finally claimed the unit shield by accumulating the most total points across the various competitions. 

“Marines are competitive by nature,” said Gordon. “This is just a great opportunity for them to come together and be able to demonstrate their warrior spirit on behalf of their battalion.”