Metro

Honoring a dauntless Marine unit

Marines joined such Gold Star families as Charlene Cosgrove-Bowie and her husband, Art, at a ceremony honoring the First Battalion, 25th Regiment at the Fallen Heroes Memorial in South Boston. Lance Corporal Christopher Cosgrove III was killed in Fallujah.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Marines joined such Gold Star families at a ceremony honoring the First Battalion, 25th Regiment at the Fallen Heroes Memorial in South Boston Saturday.

Saturday marked 3,705 days since Karen McKenna’s son was killed by a sniper in the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Captain John J. McKenna IV, from Brooklyn, N.Y., was serving with the First Battalion of the 25th Marine Regiment in August 2006 when he was shot in the head while helping another member of his unit who had been shot.

Advertisement

He was one of 11 members in the regiment killed in combat in Fallujah. Two, Corporal Paul N. King and Lance Corporal Eric P. Valdepenas, were from Massachusetts.

Nine of the 11 Gold Star families gathered in the Seaport District Saturday with veterans of the unit to honor the 10-year anniversary of the regiment’s return to the United States. They served in Iraq from March to October 2006.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“It seems like it was another lifetime ago, but it hurts like it was yesterday,” said Karen McKenna, sitting by the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial after a ceremony there Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Charlene Cosgrove-Bowie and her husband, Art, were among the Gold Star families attending the ceremony. Lance Corporal Chris Cosgrove III was killed in Fallujah.

“Somebody once told me, it’s like a very sharp rock,” said McKenna, who counts each day since her son’s death. “Over time, the water might wear away some of the edges, but that rock will be there for the rest of my life.”

About 400 Marines from the battalion were expected at Saturday’s reunion, which included the memorial ceremony, a reception with veterans service health care providers, and a reunion dinner with speeches from some of the battalion’s leaders. Approximately 650 people were expected to attend overall.

Advertisement

Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson, who commanded the Fifth Marine Regiment and is currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan, said the story of John J. McKenna IV was not unlike those of the other 10 killed from his unit. Nearly all of them died while trying to help or save someone else, Nicholson said.

“I had five battalions under my command, and this one was special,” he said. “There’s just a sense of real service here and real sacrifice from this crowd.”

Nicholson said members of the battalion had a strong bond with one another. Together, they empowered the local community in Fallujah and worked with them, he said.

“They came in, and they took all the hard jobs. They shied away from nothing,” Nicholson said. “It was just a can-do organization that understands the importance of the mission.”

Colonel Chris Landro, commanding officer of the First Battalion and a speaker at the evening reception, agreed that the members were unique, calling them the most “motivated, educated, and dedicated Marines” he had ever seen.

Landro said the reunion is a chance for Gold Star families and veterans to honor and celebrate the battalion, especially the fallen.

“We’re coming together to celebrate what we’ve achieved and what we’ve become since,” Landro said. “We’re celebrating the success we had as a military unit and in executing our mission.”

During the memorial service, Landro told the Gold Star families that despite the “political banter” about wars in the United States, their loved ones killed while fighting in Iraq were not lost “in vain.”

“The measure is not the discussion that goes on, but the measure is the enemy they fought,” he said. “Our tomorrows are here because of what they sacrificed, and it’s critical that we forever remember that.”

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com