The Fifth Marine Regiment is composed of four battalions. The Third of the Fifth – the 3/5 – is organized into five companies: Headquarters and Service, I, K, L and Weapons. The lettered companies take names from the military alphabet: India, Kilo and Lima. Each company is composed of three platoons and each platoon is composed of three squads, a total of 950 men for the 3/5.
The 3/5 has just returned from 7 months in and around Sangin, Helmand, Afghanistan. They suffered 24 KIAs and 232 WIAs – more than any other battalion of the Marine Corps in the entire 10-year Afghan operation.
Zachary James of the 3/5 landed in St. Louis yesterday and was escorted home to Freeburg, Illinois by the Patriot Guard Riders. Blaise Beesch, Trent Neumann and Nick Rahn arrived at the Milwaukee airport yesterday, all of the 3/5. Blaise and Nick traveled on to Illinois, Winthrop Harbor and Fox Point. The Patriot Guard Riders welcomed them home. Today, Tristan Rotheroe landed near Madison and was escorted home to Durand, Illinois by Patriot Guard Riders who will also welcome Tony Ellison home to Morris, Illinois.
And there are Joe Reynolds, Jonathon Gallop, Vincent Sacco and Matthew Zeimys; and there will be others. “Welcome Home” missions have special significance to the many Vietnam vets who were not welcomed when they came back home. This time must be especially sweet for the families and friends of the returning 3/5 after their most violent deployment.
Many soldiers returning from our Civil War displayed “soldier’s heart”. Those returning from WWI had “shell shock” and from WWII, “battle fatigue”. Now we call it PTSD, and only the passage of several years will reveal how hard it hits the 3/5. Like KIA and WIA, this is another part of the human cost of war.
Welcome home, guys. But keep on fighting.
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PostScript: Just as the 3/5 was returning, the FFFH came into being.
Nearly all warriors who go into battle have family support. But sometimes, perhaps years later, they die without family or anyone to note their passing. (I recently experienced this with the passing of Richard Kosydor.) While this is sad for anyone, it is more so for one who has demonstrated selfless sacrifice as a core value.
Eric Kuhn has stepped forward. I didn't attend their first event but I have seen a video of it and one frame from that video follows: