USS GREEN BAY, At sea - Amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and embarked Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 1/1) of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit held a Guadalcanal commemoration ceremony Sep. 10, during their 2011 maiden Western Pacific deployment.
As part of Green Bay's return home to San Diego, the ship passed by Guadalcanal, the site of the first major offensive operation of WWII and several important naval battles.
"The Sailors and Marines of Green Bay have been given the unique privilege of sailing through these hallowed waters where so many of our Sailors and Marines gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country," said Cmdr. Kevin P. Meyers, commanding officer of Green Bay.
The ceremony commemorated the Battle of Guadalcanal and the sacrifices of the men who fought and died.
"In spite of our busy operational schedules, it's critically important to pause and pay our respects to these brave heroes from the past. I could not think of a more fitting way to spend our first deployment than by honoring those who sailed here before us, and those who bravely fought in the Guadalcanal campaign," said Meyers.
The ceremony had special meaning for the embarked Marines of BLT 1/1.
"[During the Guadalcanal campaign] BLT 1/1 came ashore early in the battle and helped secure the critically important airfield. The battalion also played a key role in the battle of the Tenaru, delivering a decisive blow against a Japanese regiment that was sent to dislodge the Marine defenses," said Lt. Col. Craig R. Wonson, commanding officer of BLT 1/1.
"We must never forget what Marines before us accomplished, whether it is Guadalcanal or Fallujah," said Wonson. "Our history is what defines us as Marines. Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sahn, Hue City. These are not just battles; these were epic struggles against incredible odds that few other military organizations could have endured."
Following remarks from Meyers and Wonson, Green Bay's Sailors and Marines paused for a moment of silence before coins from USS Green Bay and BLT 1/1 were dedicated to the sea off the island of Guadalcanal. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Sailors and Marines posed for photographs with Guadalcanal in the background.
"It's an honor to serve alongside these brave Marines, and I couldn't be happier than to provide them the opportunity to see this historic island as part of their past," said Meyers. "Seeing the pride on the faces of the younger Marines as they posed for pictures with Guadalcanal in the background is something I will always remember."
Green Bay is deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting Theater Security Cooperation events.