Marines honor fallen comrade, build camaraderie
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- There are several ways to remember the passing of someone. Some will have a moment of silence or say a prayer. Others choose to build on the bonds they have to celebrate one’s life after mourning that person’s death.
The Marines with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company played a flag football tournament May 23 on the parade deck at Camp Hansen in memory of Sgt. Julian C. Chase.
Chase, an Edgewater, Md., native, was killed in action May 28, 2012, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a fire support man with Firepower Control Team 7, 5th ANGLICO, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.
During his time with the company, Chase served as a role model for junior Marines and his peers, according to Sgt. Charles G. Page, a motor vehicle operator with the company.
“Sgt. Chase always took the time out of his day to mentor his Marines,” said Page. “The senior Marines knew he could be depended on and the junior Marines looked up to him.”
During the tournament, the 2nd and 3rd Brigades formed two separate teams, while Headquarters Company was divided into two teams due to its size. The four teams competed against each other until the second headquarters team and 3rd Brigade faced off in the final game. The muddy face-off ended with 3rd Brigade claiming victory, and they received the trophy created in honor of Chase.
The tournament served as a way to remember not just Chase, but all service members who made the ultimate sacrifice when the U.S. was involved in armed conflicts, according to Lt. Col. Josh K. Gelerter, the commanding officer of the company.
“A lot of men and women have given everything they had,” said Gelerter, a Damascus, Md., native. “They leave behind families and friends. What we wanted to do today was not mourn their passing, but to celebrate their lives. I never knew Sgt. Chase, but from what I have heard about him from the Marines who did, I would have been proud to have known him.”
For the Marines with the company, the day was an opportunity to both offer their respect to a fallen brother and to come together as a family, according to Cpl. Juan R. Perezocana, a ground radio repairman with 5th ANGLICO.
“Most of us here now never met Sgt. Chase,” said Perezocana, a Visalia, Calif., native. “But we read about him and have heard stories from some of the Marines that did know him. He wanted his Marines to succeed and work together, and this helps us build our teamwork and camaraderie.”
After presenting the winners with the trophy, Gelerter encouraged the Marines to remember why the U.S. celebrates Memorial Day.
“Everyone (needs to) take a moment on Memorial Day,” said Gelerter. “A moment to think about the sacrifices made so that we can have our freedom and to thank those fallen heroes who now watch over us.”