Building on past traditions, legacy: Marines push forward in Afghanistan
MUSA QAL' AH DISTRICT CENTER, Afghanistan (November 30, 2012) – The phrase "The Few, The Proud" has been associated with Marines for years, but for one infantry company the words have a deeper meaning.
Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, are currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. For them, it is an opportunity to build upon and continue the illustrious past and traditions associated with their company.
"There's been a lot of Marines throughout history, but there's only been a select few who have had the opportunity to say they were a part of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines," said 1stSgt Christopher Griffith, the company first sergeant and Parkersburg, W.Va., native. "To me, that's why it's so important for the men in this company to have such a fond respect for those who came before us."
For Capt Thomas Harris, the company commander, the feeling of being a part of Fox is humbling.
"The battalion, as well as the company, has a pretty impressive battle history," said Harris, from Fort Madison, Iowa. "They've always done great things in hard places. So it's eye-opening to have to be responsible for not only the Marines and sailors of the current Fox Company, but also the heritage and legacy of past Fox Company Marines."
In the Korean War, Fox Co. would cement its legacy in the history books with one battle in particular, The Battle of Fox Hill. The intense fight lasted from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2, 1950. Because of the cold and frigid temperatures, Marines' weapons would malfunction and grenades would freeze, so the Marines had to rely on hand to hand combat.
During the battle, 250 men with Fox Co. endured -30 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, held their position against an entire regiment of enemy forces and eventually pushed them back. When the final shots of the battle were fired, only 85 men in the company were able to walk off the battlefield on their feet, the rest were wounded, captured or killed in action.
During The Battle of Fox Hill, two men would be awarded the Medal of Honor. The company's sacrifices would also be recognized in the book "The Last Stand of Fox Company," a book that Griffith refers to as his bible. The Marines of Fox Co. would again add to their legacy during the Korean War with three more Marines receiving the Medal of Honor.
To pay tribute to the Marines who have come before them, Griffith keeps a company guidon created by a former Fox Co. Marine and Korean War veteran in his office. Displayed on the guidon are six informative plates honoring former Fox Co. Marines. Five plates are for Marines who went above and beyond the call of duty and received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, and one for the creator of the guidon. For the past two years, the guidon has gone with the company wherever they have gone. From California, Okinawa, Australia, the Philippines and Afghanistan, the guidon has been with them the entire way.
"The guidon is more than a piece of material, it's a symbol. It's a symbol of unit pride," Griffith said. "It's the pinnacle of my career to be able to be the first sergeant for Fox Company 2/7."
Harris reinforced what Griffith said and noted the sacrifice made by the Marines whose names are displayed on the guidon.
"The guidon adds even more to the weight of the responsibility of this company," Harris said. "It's a solemn reminder for all of us of the good deeds done by good Marines."
For junior Marines in Fox Co., the feeling of pride and honor is mutual.
"It's an honor to be a part of Fox Company honestly," said LCpl Miguel Davila, machine gunner with the company. "The history and traditions go back pretty far, and then to also be a part of 1st Marine Division and what they've done throughout history is pretty cool. I get pride out of being part of Fox 2/7."
On their current deployment, the company has taken a step back and allowed the Afghan National Security Forces operating in the area the chance to reclaim their country's security. It is a mission that will only help solidify the company's legacy.
"We have a unique mission," Harris said. "It's absolutely different than the mission that battalions have faced in previous engagements throughout history. This will still add to our legacy. We still have the opportunity to go forward and execute the mission that was asked of us by the nation."
While deployed, Fox Co. will continue to maintain security and allow the ANSF to operate independently ensuring they receive any assistance that might be required.
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