'Masters of the Iron Horse' celebrate 50 years of success

20 Dec 2000 | Cpl. Valerie A. Martinez

'Dusty, crusty, grease-covered, dirty and sweaty' is how the picture on the wall describes it. It's big, it's mean, and it 'packs a powerful punch,' according to Master Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Speranzi, the operations chief for 2d Tank Battalion, 2d Marine Division here.

The 'it' Speranzi is referring to is a tank, and he and his fellow 'Masters of the Iron Horse' celebrated 2d Tanks 59th year of service to Country and Corps in a cake-cutting ceremony Dec. 20.

"Being the United States military means crossing deadly grounds," said Lt. Col. Chris D. Casados, the training officer for 2d Tanks. "In trench warfare, they had to figure out how to get across, and that's where the tank was born."

Officially activated at Camp Elliot in San Diego, 2d Tanks participated in the battles at Tarawa, Saipan and Okinawa during World War II. They provided support in the 1960's during the Cuban Missile Crisis through the outbreak riots in the Dominican Republic. Their versatility landed them in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1982, where they participated in multi-national peacekeeping efforts.

"Over the years Marines change, but the mission always remains the same," said Speranzi. "We train, train, and train some more to go to war and win battles."

According to the Oneonta, New Yorker, tankers work in a tight knit community.

"The tank battalion is a small, elite and close bonded organization," said Speranzi. "We are small, unique and pack a lot of punch."

Casados added although 2d Tanks is a smaller-sized unit, its capabilities are imperative to the mission.

"We provide a diverse capability to the Marine Corps that gives punch power to the MAGTF (Marine Air Ground Task Force)," he remarked. "We are always going to need that capability."

Lieutenant Colonel T. Brant Bailey III, commanding officer of 2d Tanks, added it is important for Marines to reflect on the mission of the unit.

"What we bring to 2d Marine Division is unique and very special," said Bailey. "This is a great opportunity for us to look inward and rededicate ourselves to the mission."

Casados of Littlefield, Texas, added a birthday message to the Marines in the battalion.

"I'd like to wish 2d Tank Battalion and the Marines in the unit 59 more years of success," he said.