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‘Band of brothers’ gathers at Arlington
Manuel A. Biadog Jr., Baptist Press
June 01, 2011

‘Band of brothers’ gathers at Arlington

‘Band of brothers’ gathers at Arlington
Manuel A. Biadog Jr., Baptist Press
June 01, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va.

— Today’s Marines in combat are our modern-day “Band of Brothers.”

The term Band of Brothers was popularized by the 2001 Stephen Spielberg and Tom

Hanks 10-part TV miniseries about a U.S. Army elite paratrooper unit during

World War II, based on a book by Stephen E. Ambrose.

In the book and the miniseries, the men of “Easy Company” of the 506th

Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division formed a brotherhood of

their shared experiences from basic training in 1942 at Camp

Toccoa, Ga., to D-Day in June

of 1944 and their ultimate triumph at the end of World War II.

A modern-day band of brothers has shared a difficult, dangerous and traumatic

experience in battle, losing their brothers-in-arms in combat. Those who know

the true meaning of brotherhood have lived it daily and established a special

bond that binds them together for the rest of their lives.

Photo courtesy of Dan DeGuzman Jr.

From left, Corporals Stephen Rothermelpilla and Richard Castagna salute Lance Corporal Kevin Michael Cornelius’ and Lance Corporal Tyler Owen Griffin’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.

This brotherhood was evident at Arlington

National Cemetery

during a bittersweet reunion of a small band of 18 Camp Lejeune Marines of

Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II

Marine Expeditionary Force on April 1.

Charlie Company Marines gathered to pay homage and respect on behalf of their

two fallen brothers, Tyler Owen Griffin of Voluntown, Conn., and Kevin Michael

Cornelius of Ashtabula, Ohio, both Lance Corporals who gave their lives while

supporting combat operations in Afghanistan in April 2010.

From Camp Lejeune, N.C.,

the Marines were joined by the families, friends and loved ones of the fallen

Marines who talked and exchanged memories and life experiences that brought

them together.

Standing at attention, the Charlie Company Marines looked on while the families

and loved ones were given time to grieve alone through a moment of silence and

prayer at the gravesites at Arlington

National Cemetery.

Slowly, one by one, each of the 18 Camp Lejeune Marines knelt down with dignity

and honor, removed their covers and placed their hand on their fallen brothers’

tombstones offering silent prayers, reflections and tears.

That moment of silence was broken from afar by someone softly whispering, “Semper

Fi.”

Choking back tears, Lance Corporal Griffin’s mother Suzie Wilding said she had

an impression she heard the distinct voice of her son Tyler saying faintly in

her heart, “Mom, I don’t deserve this honor, I was only doing my job. My job is

being a Marine.”

Others shared their observances:

— “It is one thing to serve in combat with these Marines and to see them hurt

or die, (but it) is another to face reality by meeting their families and

relive their sacrifices by a physical remembrance of them at Arlington. It is

very humbling. That’s makes it real for me,” said First Lieutenant Daniel

Kapavik, Third Platoon Commander.

— Celeste Corbissero, grandmother of Lance Kevin Corporal Cornelius, said: “My

grandson was very fortunate to be with such a wonderful group of men.” She

vividly remembers all the letters and email she received from Kevin in

Afghanistan. “Every email and letter I received from Kevin always ended up with

the same last sentence: ‘I’m doing what I want to do. There is no place else I

rather be. Semper Fi.’”

Corbissero spoke proudly of her grandson: “Kevin wanted to be the best Marine.”

She remembers him telling her: “Grandma, if anything happens to me, if I die,

don’t cry because I’ll be in heaven.”

— Johnny Wilding, Lance Corporal Griffin’s step-father, said humbly: “Tyler and

Kevin were the best of friends since they first met at Camp

Lejuene. It is pretty incredible

they had served together in Afghanistan, lost their lives four months apart,

and (are) both … buried together one space apart at Arlington National

Cemetery is truly remarkable.”

It has been 235 years since the independence of the United

States of America. Countless courageous

Americans have defended this country since the Revolutionary War — in World War

I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Panama, Grenada, the Persian Gulf,

Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

The unselfish deeds and inspirational actions of our fallen American heroes are

inscribed at The Confederate Monument at Arlington

National Cemetery

that reads:

Not for fame or reward

Not for place or for rank

Not lured by ambition

Or goaded by necessity

But in simple

Obedience to duty

As they understood it

These men suffered all

Sacrificed all

Dared all — and died

May we never forget Lance Corporals Griffin and Cornelius’ final acts of

bravery and accomplishing their duties with HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT.

Their ultimate sacrifice and love for our flag, our country, their comrades-in-arms,

their faith in God, their friends and their families will forever be enshrined

in the hearts of our nation’s proud and grateful citizens.

May God grant us the vision, wisdom, understanding and determination to make us

worthy of the sacrifices of our dead heroes, and may we never forget that all

future wars and conflicts again will cost the lives of the best and brightest

of our nation in order to keep America safe and to defend and protect the

Constitution of the United States of America.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Commander (Chaplain) Manuel A. Biadog Jr., CHC,

USN, is a Southern Baptist chaplain endorsed by the North American Mission

Board. He currently is serving as the Command Chaplain, Naval Base Kitsap,

Washington. He previously served as Command Chaplain, Naval Station Newport,

R.I.; Deputy III MEF Chaplain/III

MHG Chaplain, III

Marine Headquarters, III Marine

Expeditionary Force, Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan; Group Chaplain, Carrier

Task Force-76, White Beach, Okinawa, Japan; Deputy Chaplain, Multi-National

Force-Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq; Staff Chaplain, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro,

Irvine, Calif.; and Assistant Command Chaplain, Naval Base Guantanamo, Cuba.)