CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Five Marines from Alpha Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) were presented with Purple Heart medals in a ceremony here May 31.
Lt. Col. Mike Lepson, battalion commander of CLB-6, 1st MLG (FWD), presented each medal for injuries suffered during actions executed in direct support of combat operations in Helmand province. The Marines receiving the medals, Staff Sgt. D'Andre Gillon, Cpl. Jeremy Salsberry, Lance Cpl. Amanda Trombley, Lance Cpl. Zachary Lohr and Lance Cpl. Thomas Rea, were honored as part a Memorial Day service held within the battalion compound.
"Since our inception, the Marine Corps has found itself facing our nation's toughest foes," said Lepson. "Marines, you're all a part of that story. You're adding another chapter to that book and as we move forward, let's take a moment to reflect on this day of remembrance."
The battalion commander was followed by Navy Lt. David Alexander, the chaplain for CLB-6, 1st MLG (FWD), who after a few comments of his own, offered a moment of silence for those who've made the ultimate sacrifice.
"… To those who never had the chance to receive their Purple Hearts on this side of eternity," said Alexander.
Following the ceremony, the five humbled medal recipients received words of encouragement, hugs and handshakes from their brothers and sisters in arms. Somewhere amid the formalities, however, it seemed that more sobering thoughts were on everyone's mind. Some Marines didn't know whether "congratulations" were appropriate for an award was earned so close to death's doorstep, while a few of the recipients themselves pondered their own mortality.
"This kind of award makes me think of the sacrifices everyone makes here and even the sacrifices I make," said Rea, a native of Saugerties, N.Y. "I'm thankful to be alive."
Lohr takes solace in knowing someone, or perhaps something, has always got his back.
"For the longest time, you kind of feel like no one is watching over you," said Lohr, native of Bucyrus, Ohio. "Then when something like this happens, you know there's always someone there."
Established by George Washington in 1792, the Purple Heart is the oldest award given to American service members. It is typically bestowed only upon those wounded or killed in action as a result of military operations against enemy forces.