Marines clean veterans’ cemetery during PHIBLEX 14
By Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
| U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific | September 28, 2013
PAMPANGA, Philippines --
While thick clouds covered the sun and heavy rain fell on the burial site, the atmosphere surrounding the graveyard was filled with honor and respect for the fallen veterans who are laid to rest there.
Twenty Marines with 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force cleaned the Clark Veterans Cemetery Sept. 28, at Clark Air Field, Pampanga, Republic of the Philippines.
“It is important to demonstrate our good faith to the community, our Filipino veterans and other fallen service members,” said Navy Lt. Stephen F. Brown, 3d MEB chaplain. “Often we can get stuck in our operations and training and forget to engage in demonstrating the generous nature that we are capable of giving.”
The cemetery established in 1950 is the final resting place of fallen service members from wars and conflicts dating back to the 1900s.
The gravesites holds the remains of service members from numerous combat engagements, including the Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, World War I, World War II, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Throughout the wars, there have been lots of unknown graves filled with bodies of fallen service members; however, even though we might not know their names, it is imperative that they are remembered and honored,” said Brown. “That could have been any of us; and as service members, we should give the love that we would like to receive if it was us.”
At the cemetery, all branches of the United States Armed Forces are represented as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines to include Philippine Scouts and Philippine Constabulary.
“What better time to clean the resting site of both Filipino and American service members than during the (Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014),” said Lance Cpl. Haaheo K. Kahue, a landing support specialist with 3d MEB.
PHIBLEX 14, now in its 30th iteration, demonstrates the U.S. and Republic of the Philippines commitment to mutual security and their longtime partnership.
“I am truly blessed, and appreciate the loyal service each headstone represents,” said Cannon. “The cleanup reminds me to earn my eagle, globe and anchor every day, so one day I can be honored like the fallen heroes we paid a visit to today.”
The event inspired Marines and their hard work did not go unnoticed.
“These resting veterans deserve nothing but the best and the two hours the Marines provided us with help, equals to about 40 hours,” said Carl D. Burke, the senior vice commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2485.
To some, the Marines’ simple sign of gratitude through volunteer efforts can help make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s rare to get volunteers to help clean the cemetery, and the Marines’ time and effort helped us preserve the cemetery,” said Burke. “With the Marines help we can continue our cemeteries motto, ‘leave no veteran behind,’ and the fallen veterans will continue to have the respected resting place that they deserve.”
The visiting service members left with a sense of appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice made by the fallen veterans.
“I just want to express the honor, respect and gratitude we have for these fallen heroes and pledge that they will never be forgotten,” said Brown. “May their souls rest in peace.”