Marines salute ROK President
By Lance Cpl. Ethan Hoaldridge
| | July 05, 2007
Marines from 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment rendered a 21-gun salute to the President of the Republic of Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, as he visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), July 5, to pay respects to fallen heroes of the Korean War.
Throughout history, many countries honor high-ranking government and military officials with a gun salute as they arrive and depart other countries or military installations.
“Who other than the Marines would we have perform the salute?” said Gene Castagnetti, the cemetery director. “When we greet foreign dignitaries, we want our best foot forward.”
The Marines have performed salutes for change-of-command ceremonies, foreign dignitary visits and certain holidays, such as Veterans Day.
Twenty Marines began rehearsing for this salute two weeks prior to the event.
Some of the Marines were chosen from sections other than the artillery batteries in 1/12. The majority of 1/12 is currently deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“It’s an honor for our Marines to be selected for these events,” said Gunnery Sgt. Iuni Amperosa, 1/12 field artillery chief. “They always do a great job representing their unit and the Corps – especially those Marines that participated for their first time.”
Ten Marines that participated were motor transport operators or mechanics.
“This was my first time doing a 21-gun salute, or firing a [howitzer] at all for that matter,” said Pfc. Eric Ochoa, and Orange County, Calif. Native. “I was really looking forward to doing it – it was a motivating experience.”