Marines assigned to the Wounded Warrior Regiment visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on Feb. 1.
The visit, intended to give the Marines an opportunity to see the site that commemorates and honors the thousands lost in the attacks of Sept. 11, allowed them to pay their respects to those who lost their lives during the attacks as well as their fellow service members fallen in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
“We were selected by our commands to partake in the Super Bowl and other activities,” said Sgt. Joseph W. Stordahl, a 34-year-old native of Kennewick, Wash., and a wounded warrior with Wounded Warrior Battalion - East, WWR. “All these organizations such as the Semper Fi Fund and the Hero Miles program came together to say, ‘We support you, we are here for you and we want to do this for you guys.’ I have done a few events, but nothing compares to this experience and I am very grateful.”
Gunnery Sgt. David W. Hendin, a 39-year-old native of Detroit and the operations chief of the Walter Reed Detachment, WWBn-E, said the visit to the memorial was inspiring because there are a great deal of Marines who joined as a result of Sept. 11 because they wanted to make a difference.
“I was stationed on the USS New York on my last deployment which was the ship’s first combat deployment,” said Hendin. “Just being on that ship to begin with was moving and I am very happy to be able to come here and see this memorial.”
According to Staff Sgt. Anthony J. St. Dennis, a 29-year-old native of Detroit and a wounded warrior with the WWBn-West, the memorial is an amazing sight to see and a reminder of why service members continue to serve.
“For all of us here who were wounded in combat, to be able to stand here and actually see our generation’s Pearl Harbor and the reason we fought is breathtaking,” said St. Dennis. “It reminds us why we even joined the Marine Corps in the first place.”
Although St. Dennis is wounded, he said he hopes to be able to continue his military career. “Right now I am trying to stay in the Marine Corps,” he said. “I want to continue serving and eventually put in a warrant officer package.”
Cpl. Ivan E. Sears, a wounded warrior, stood out amongst the Marines touring the memorial.
“I joined after this (Sept. 11) and I lost both of my legs in combat,” said the 23-year-old native of San Antonio. “It feels great to know that I did my part to defend this country and I will still continue to do my part however I can.”
“Etiam in Pugna” or Still in the Fight, is the motto of the WWR. Despite their injuries, each wounded warrior is focused on his or her abilities to contribute to the Marine Corps’ mission.
“I have no regrets about anything that happened to me,” said Stordahl. “I chose to serve my country and (being injured in combat) is something that every Marine knows can happen.”