Photo Information

Pfc. Nathaniel Daniels, left, and Lance Cpl. Frank Smith IV, point out names at the Onslow County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Jacksonville, N.C., Dec. 18, 2014. The Marines with Alpha Battery, 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, visited the memorial to learn more about the Corps’ history and the sacrifice of previous generations of service members. Daniels, a native of Madison, Miss., and Smith, a native of Rush City, Minn., are both LAAD gunners with Alpha Battery.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Neysa Huertas

2nd LAAD Marines learn history, visit hallowed ground

24 Dec 2014 | Sgt. T.T. Parish Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

Marines with Alpha Battery, 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, spent the day learning about the sacrifices of Marines past to help focus on the future Dec. 18, 2014.

The Marines travelled from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. to Jacksonville, N.C. to visit and tour the Montford Point Marine Museum, the Beirut Memorial and the Onslow County Vietnam War Memorial, which honor the legacy and sacrifice of previous generations.

The Marines learned of the spirit of service and sacrifice the museum and memorials commemorate, aiming to reinforce the leadership traits and principles they represent, said Sgt. Ryan C. Johnston, platoon sergeant with 2nd Platoon.

“This trip highlights leadership principles because it hits directly,” said Johnston, a native Commack, N.Y. “Marines need to be diverse and getting them to an event like this is a good way to inspire them and let them reflect.”

The Marine Corps has started several initiatives during the past few years to help empower its junior leaders, the noncommissioned officers that lead more than 80% of the Corps’ enlisted force. According to Johnston, the Corps’ future leaders do well to learn about and from the Marines who have gone before.

“This type of learning event builds unit cohesion because it gets all the Marines to spend time together to discuss our legacy,” said Johnston, who enlisted in 2011. “We are all Marines therefore our legacy is the same. We have a rich history and it helps motivate the Marines to discuss our history in and out of a work setting … many of these Marines will go on to do 10 or 20 years as Marines and they can pass it along to future junior Marines to keep our Corps’ traditions alive and passionate.”

The senior leaders of 2nd LAAD’s three batterys emphasize the importance of history as a guide for future generations of Marines. According to 1st Sgt. Jose A. Acero, Alpha Battery first sergeant, the Marine Corps depends on the ability of its junior leaders to learn from and apply the lessons of the past.

“The trip is important because we need to know our past,” said Acero, a native of South Gate, Calif. who enlisted in 1998. “Marines must be educated and learn from our past in order to stay an ever evolving Marine Corps that continues to thrive.”

The battalion has served in a variety of conflicts since 2001, including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its leaders place a premium on the ability of junior Marines to adapt and respond to a changing global landscape. Taking lessons from previous generations of Marines helps the battalion’s Marines understand the significance of current operations and the role each Marine plays in the success of the Corps, said Acero.

“Some of the teaching points of the trip are always maintaining proper awareness and being mission ready no matter the time. The leadership in the battery hopes that the Marines leave feeling they’ve received an important lesson and that each Marine has a rejuvenated sense of focus on the mission.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point