Stars & Stripes has the background story. (And I think Captain Trembaly is just about my favorite person in the whole world right now.)
“We had two Marines not come back that came with us,” said Capt. Paul Trembaly, commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. The last combat death came Jan. 18, less than two weeks before the Camp Lejeune, N.C., Marines were to begin their rotation back to the states. “They’re mourning him right now,” Trembaly said explaining the Marines' reluctance to talk about those wounded and killed during the deployment.
As a drizzle steadily fell from the gray overcast sky, Trembaly said in planning the ceremony at the memorial, he wanted his Marines “to remember, no matter how hard the times get, or how bad their dreams are, that they are part of a larger prestigious organization that takes care of its own.”
As part of taking care of his company, Trembaly arranged for his Marines, roughly 170 of them, to travel from Camp Lejeune to visit fellow Marines from their unit whose injuries required them to be medically evacuated from Afghanistan and who are recuperating at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Trembaly said 16 of his Marines were medevaced out during their seven-month deployment. Visiting them at the Bethesda complex was an “incredibly powerful, healing measure for us,” he said. “We’ve been able to come together as a family and as a company. It removes the stress of uncertainty for my Marines not knowing exactly what to say or when to reunite with their brethren who were wounded.”
For the Company B Marines who arrived back in the states on Feb. 4, and for whom the trauma of war is still fresh in their minds, visiting their wounded comrades and presenting the Purple Hearts at the Marine Corps Memorial was a therapeutic venture.
“It’s a pretty humbling experience overall,” said [Sgt. Curt] Bartz. “Got to see our brothers that came back a little early, and a lot of guys will be able to sleep better tonight. It’s been probably one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in the Marine Corps.
“They’re all doing good now.”