CAMP PENDLETON, CA—Joy Sears found her son’s name on a memorial plaque for hospital corpsmen and Marines unveiled Thursday.
“I kissed my hand and kissed his name three different times in honor of him and I cried for all the rest of them, too,” Sears said. “They’re brothers; they’re a group.”
Sears and her husband, Franklin, came from Albertville, AL, to salute her son Steven Dwight Sears, who was 20 when he died after stepping on a land mine on Nov. 1, 1967.
Perhaps the strongest bond between the Marine Corps and the Navy comes in the form of the hospital corpsman—a sailor-medic who serves alongside Marines in the world’s most dangerous zones.
Veterans of both services, who deployed to Vietnam with the “Thundering Third,” came together once again Thursday for a Camp Horno area ceremony.
There, members and veterans of the 1st Marine Division’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment unveiled the plaque memorializing its Marines and corpsmen who died in Vietnam.
“Today, we are gathered here to remember 654 of our very best our nation produced and deployed in harms way—628 Marines and 26 of the Navy’s finest,” said Col. Willard A. Buhl, who deployed with the battalion to Iraq.
The funds for the nearly $9,500 plaque were raised by donations and weighs about 600 pounds, according to Jim Lupori—a unit veteran who was instrumental in the creation of the monument.
For Franklin Sears, the raised lettering was a tactile way to remember his son.
“We really enjoyed touching that,” he said. “We just had to touch it.”
Accompanying the parents was Stephen Brodsky, a corpsman from Texas who was treated with Steven Sears when he died, and has always remembered his friend.
He knows others will never forget the unit’s fallen service members either.
“Each one of those Marines and corpsmen will be immortalized and they’ll always be remembered,” Brodsky said. “Because as long as there is a Marine Corps, that plaque will exist.”
Brodsky and the Sears met only recently. Read more about their encounter in The (Fort Dodge, IA) Messenger.