The Marine Corps' upgraded Amphibious Assault Vehicle will not be named after the famed Lima Company, which suffered heavy losses in Iraq, despite an emotional appeal from a lawmaker and Marine veteran who served with the unit during its deadly 2005 deployment.
Rep. Ruben Gallego had proposed an amendment to the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that would have asked Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller to consider naming the upgraded AAV7A1s the "Lima Warrior."
"This is something that is extremely personal to me," the Arizona Democrat said on Wednesday. "I had the luck and fortune of serving with Lima Company 3/25 in 2005, a unit that would end up being one of the hardest hit in the whole Iraq war."
During its deployment to Haditha, Lima Company lost 22 Marines, including 11 killed on Aug. 3, 2005, when an AAV was destroyed by a roadside bomb.
Like many units, Lima Company went to war with AAVs that were "ill-equipped" for the combat conditions in Iraq, Gallego said on Wednesday.
The AAV's replacement is still several years away, so the Marine Corps is giving 392 AAV7A1s extensive survivability upgrades to add more protection against roadside bombs.
The new Amphibious Assault Vehicle Survivability Upgrade is set on display at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. March 15, 2016. The AAV SU will build upon the existing hull. The upgrades include additional armor, blast-mitigating seats and spall liners. They may also include fuel tank protection and automotive and suspension upgrades to keep both land and sea mobility regardless of the added weight. (U. S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Erasmo Cortez III)
Photo Credit: LCpl. Cortez III Erasmo/Marine Corps
Gallego said he has drawn comfort from an article he read, which reported many of the new safety features on the upgraded AAV are based on lessons learned from Lima Company's experiences in 2005.
But Rep. Randy Forbes said that he had spoken with Neller, who said that naming the upgraded AAV after Lima Company was not in keeping with Marine Corps policy.
"His comment was this: That the United States Marine Corps chooses not to single out any unit or any individual in the Corps by naming combat vehicles after them since 'All of our Marines sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan,'" said Forbes, R-Va.
The commandant also believes the Marine Corps has other ways to honor Lima Company's sacrifice that do comply with the service's history and traditions, Forbes said as an ashen expression fell on Gallego's face.
Forbes added that lawmakers frequently ask his committee to name ships after people or an event that happened, but the committee has traditionally said no because it knows once it opens that door, it will get similar requests every year.
"I think the commandant is worried that if we open this door, it will be very difficult, then, to get our arms around it," Forbes said.
Ultimately, the House panel rejected Gallego's amendment in a voice vote.
"I can't think of a more compelling case than the case that Mr. Gallego has presented," said Moulton, D-Mass. "This was an unspeakable tragedy … but I think when you take the long view, you have to understand that the commandant speaks in the interests of not just the Marines of today but the Marines of the future, and does so with compelling authority."