1/8 Marines reunite, former Marines from across nation join at Lejeune

12 Apr 2001 | LCpl Mike Rogers

Former Marines of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment recently reunited here to relive memories and see the Corps of today. Making a guest appearance and speech was former Gen. Walter E. Boomer, from Pomfret, Conn., whose career highlight was serving as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. Currently the president and chief executive officer for Rogers Corporation, Boomer started his Marine Corps career as a second lieutenant with 1/8.From corporals to colonels, their stay here brought back many memories and reinforced the saying, "once a Marine, always a Marine.""I've always been a Marine in heart. Through this, I can be part of it again," said Curt M. O'Brien from Palmyra, Pa. The former corporal and 3.25mm rockets section leader continued, "The tour's been great so far, I'm really enjoying myself."The assemblage included vehicle and equipment displays, a living quarters excursion and various local landmarks of interest. The intent was to provide a comparison from the early 1960's to today's Corps.Viewing an assortment of Riverine Assault Craft, M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks, Light Armored Vehicles and Amphibious Assault Vehicles, many of the former leathernecks showed interest in the "sophisticated" equipment used today. Many grouped together in front of the vehicles for company or "buddy" photos showing their continued interest in the Marine Corps and its Marines.In addition to the static displays, the tour included an Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer visit and lunch at the 8th Marine Mess Hall.With no shortage of memories and good times the Marine Corps, the leathernecks of yesterday were altogether pleased with the performance and dedication still present in the Corps today."It really started with these folks, said Boomer. I have good memories as a second lieutenant with the unit so I didn't hesitate in coming when I was approached with the offer."Boomer's speech included many historical factors and Marine fundamentals."Becoming a Marine is in your genes. If you're looking for a challenge you will find it in the Marine Corps," said Boomer.Boomer and Col. Mastin M. Robeson, commanding officer of 8th Marines were the guests of honor at the mess night concluding the Lejeune portion of the reunion.The former Marines traveled to Cuba for the latter half of their reunion."This is the ultimate... what the Corps and this base has done for us today, said O'Brien. It couldn't be any better."Editor's Note: "The brief history of the 8th Marines," written by History and Museums Division, Headquarters Marine Corps. Delta Company 1/8 served as Marine Corps Security Forces, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba immediately following the "Bay of Pigs" Invasion attempt in 1961. The remainder of the Battalion trained at Vieques, Puerto Rico. In February 1962, the Battalion was re-designated as 2d Bn, 2nd Marines, deployed to Vieques when the Cuban Missile Crisis was imminent. On 22 October 1962, the entire Battalion deployed to Cuba and arrived prepared for offensive or defensive operations. The Battalion earned both the Armed Forces and Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal during those years.