U.S. Marines with 2nd Marine Division (MARDIV), stand at parade rest prior to executing the 2nd MARDIV change of command ceremony at W.P.T. Hill Field on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 7, 2014. Maj. Gen. James W. Lukeman, outgoing commanding general, 2nd MARDIV relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Brian D. Beaudreault. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kelly L. Timney, 2nd MARDIV Combat Camera/Released).
The 2nd Marine Division will parade 6,000 Marines and tons of tactical vehicles through Jacksonville, North Carolina, as it celebrates 75 years of heritage.
The "Follow Me" division organized Feb. 1, 1941, at Camp Elliott, California. Its Marines have fought in every clime and place from Guadalcanal in the Pacific to Afghanistan's the Helmand province of Afghanistan.
The division will honor all current and former members with a three-day celebration that kicks off next Thursday, Feb. 4, with the sergeant major’s reception at the Camp Lejeune staff noncommissioned officer club NCO Club at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
A memorial ceremony will follow be at the base’s protestant chapel at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time time Fridaymorning of Feb. 5. Veterans from each era will then hang battle streamers on the division colors during a ceremony the Battle Colors Rededication Ceremony & Awards Ceremony at Lejeune's Goettge Memorial Field House at Geottege Field House from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.1000 to 1130.
"This is going to be a significant year to take those remaining World War II veterans and give them one more opportunity to participate in an event that celebrates their achievements," said Maj. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, the division's commanding general.
Though he has spent most of his career assigned to 1st Marine Division, Beaudreault's admiration for the "Follow Me Division" is obvious; he said he looks forward to meeting some of its earliest warriors.
The anniversary will provide "a great connection between the older veterans and younger Marines," said Beaudreault, who noted the timeless commonalities shared by Marines, be they 80 or are 18.
Three of the division's former commanders — Gens. Al Gray, Randolph Pate and James Jones — have gone on to serve as commandant, including Former commanders such as Gens. Al Gray, Randolph Pate and James Jones went on to serve as commandant. Lt. And among the roster of former commanders is another notable leatherneck — none other than then-Maj. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, also who led the division as a two-star general from July 1954 to February 1955.
Beaudreault said he is especially looking forward to the parade that will be held on the third day of the division's celebration. on Day 3., which he described as "something special to see." The 1.5-mile trek parade will be led by World War II Marines, followed by veterans from each subsequent conflict and era.
Today's generation of Modern Marines will have their backs as they take the rear position on the six.
The commanding general felt it was important this be a community celebration. As such, the parade will be held in Jacksonville rather than on Camp Lejeune, and will stretch from Camp Johnson to Riverwalk Crossing Park.
The parade will feature the M1A1 Abrams tank, assault breaching vehicle, amphibious assault vehicle, light armored reconnaissance vehicle, logistics vehicles and assorted artillery.
The anniversary celebration will wrap up with a community festival at Jacksonville's New River Waterfront Park and a concert by the 2nd Marine Division band at Northside High School from 6 to 8 p.m1800-2000.
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