MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines of 1st Tank Battalion along with Bravo Squadron, 1st Armored Regiment, Australian Army, gathered on Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the battalion Nov. 1.
The battalion, which was activated Nov. 1, 1941, at Camp Lejeune, N.C., as the Marine Corps’ first tank battalion had a static display and honored the tankers of the year for each company along with a re-dedication of the battle streamers at the ceremony.
The five tankers recognized were Cpl. Jonathan M. Griffith, Headquarters and Service Company; Sgt. Bobby L. Sjolander, Company A; Sgt. Steven Guerrero, Company B; Sgt. Thomas K. Heard, Company C; and Cpl. Fernando F. Ruizrojo, Company D.
Because Company A is currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company C is currently on post deployment leave and other operational commitments Sgt. Guerrero and Cpl. Ruizrojo were the only two recipients available for the presentation.
“This battalion has participated in nearly every conflict the Marine Corps has engaged in since World War II,” said Tanks Commanding Officer Lt. Col. James B. Stopa.
“Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Kuwait and the cities and streets of Iraq, Tankers have always been at the pointy edge of the spear, doing what we do best,” Stopa continued.
Throughout history tanks have played a prominent role in wars. Transporting Marines through terrain they might not otherwise be able to get through.
“A war without tanks would be like taking away a big advantage,” said Lance Cpl. Adolfo Castro, tank mechanic.
It’s important to celebrate the battalion’s birthday to pay respect to Marines who have fallen for our freedom, said Castro.
The Tanks birthday celebration was a time for every tanker to feel a stronger sense of pride in their past, present and future.
“Although, the horses we have rode into conflict have changed over the past 65 years, one thing has remained the same — a constant fighting spirit of tankers,” said Stopa. “Easily identified on the battlefield, just look for the dirtiest, greasiest, the most focused and determined warriors and rest assured, you’re in good hands.”