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By Eric Heinz
Memorial Day is celebrated thoroughly each year in San Clemente. As is tradition, the city will host a ceremony from 11-noon on Monday, May 29, at the San Clemente Community Center lawn, located at 100 N. Calle Seville, with guest speakers San Clemente resident Lt. Col. Luke McConnell of United States Marine Corps and Joint Task Force North, followed by guest speaker George Key, a U.S. Army veteran of WWII and the Korean War.
From 2-3 p.m. at Park Semper Fi, another ceremony will take place to celebrate all members of the military. The guest speaker is Lt. Col Warren Cook, the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, the city’s adopted battalion. This ceremony is sponsored by the city and The Heritage of San Clemente Foundation.
Cook spoke to the San Clemente Times regarding the importance of Memorial Day and remembering active and retired military personnel.
“The Memorial Day holiday stretches far back in to our nation’s history,” Cook said in an email Tuesday, May 23. “It is a time many of us enjoy the outdoors, family, friends and the (camaraderie) that brings with it. It is also a yearly reminder that the opportunities and way of life we enjoy have come through great sacrifice from the generations that have come before us and it remains incumbent on us all to ensure our way of life for those yet to come. It is also a yearly reminder that the opportunities and way of life we enjoy have come through great sacrifice from the generations that have come before us, and it remains incumbent on us all to ensure our way of life for those yet to come.”
When asked what the best way to honor military service personnel, Cook said there isn’t one perfect answer.
“You know, everyone that serves does it for a different reason, be it a family tradition, personal challenge, or career,” Cook said. “Likewise, everyone appreciates that service differently. There really is no best way to honor military service. Whether someone donates their time to a veterans charity or a simple thank you and sincere hand shake, it’s the act that truly matters.”
With growing warfare infrastructure through cyber security, access to communication on a global level, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (2/4) faces a lot of challenges abroad and domestically.
“The world still harbors evil. We’ve seen chemical and terror attacks across the globe, some targeting even women and children,” Cook said. “We see natural disasters continue to kill, injure and displace tens of thousands annually. Memorial Day is an apt reminder to thank those Veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the face of that kind of adversity. Those Marines who came before carved our Corps’ storied reputation into history. As a result, we serve in a Corps with no institutional confusion about our purpose: To fight! To fight well! Our enemies are keenly aware they cannot stand toe to toe against our Marines. Yet, Marines don’t fight alone. We fight together, alongside our allies, partners and for each other. We think like Marines of action. We act like Marines of thought. We face adversity together. And, together, we are ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.'”
Coook also mentioned some of the recent accomplishments of the 2/4.
“The 2/4 deployed as a Battalion Landing Team from May to November 2016 to the Pacific region. During this time, we provided a force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations in the Asia-Pacific area and South China Sea. Training occurred on twelve different countries and islands, effectively increasing U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific area and bolstering military partnerships with other countries. Several large scale exercises were executed in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the only permanently forward-deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit and is stationed in Okinawa, Japan. We were able to exercise and refine the full depth of infantry operations to include company sized helicopter vertical assaults, over the horizon ship-to-shore amphibious assaults, and jungle warfare operations.
“Once the battalion returned to United States, we have transitioned our focus to the professional military education of our young leaders and their development. We are capitalizing on the deep knowledge base that resides in the Battalion and we also have worked alongside out British Royal Marine partners, during their Exercise WESSEX STORM located in the southern United Kingdom. Additionally, our battalion has continued to support other units across Camp Pendleton and beyond as they train to deploy and share the knowledge learned from our own recent deployment. Within our own ranks we are creating and developing innovative solutions and training best practices to compete against the ever changing tactics that our adversaries continue to utilize.”
Community relations is one of our biggest local priorities and is an ongoing effort as we work alongside the people of the beautiful city that adopted us, San Clemente. Our San Clemente family continues to provide wonderful support for the ‘Magnificent Bastards’ and our families and they remain an integral part to the success of our family readiness program.