New memorial honors Camp Pendleton Marines killed in Afghanistan
Granite 7-ton wall delivered after 10-day trip
Last Updated: 198 days ago
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A new memorial honoring Marines killed in Afghanistan arrived Monday at Camp Pendleton following a lengthy journey.
The trip across country for truck driver Henry Lafreniere was an emotional one.
"In the 25-plus years of driving trucks, this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," he said.
Lafreniere started 10 days ago in Vermont with his seven-ton payload. Along the way, local police and Patriot Guard Riders, volunteers who often escort military funeral processions, escorted him.
His cargo was crated, but he knew what was inside -- a massive granite wall inscribed with the names of Marines from the 5th Marine Regiment out of Camp Pendleton who died in Afghanistan.
"Every time I lay down in bed, I'd think about the names on the wall," he said of his cross-country journey. "Every morning I'd wake up, I'd walk by and just reach up and touch it."
Lafreniere knew the names were important to someone.
"I know Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt," Marine Cpl. Anthony Szekely said, pointing to his friend's name on the memorial. "I actually came in with him and he was my first roommate."
Szekely didn't find closure in seeing his friends' names on the wall, but he said he'd use the memorial to teach others about what happened in Afghanistan.
"Nobody's made these military members or Marines do what they do. They just do it for the love of the country," said Lafreniere.
A formal dedication of the memorial will be held in June.
Watch video of the Patriot Guard Riders escorting the memorial (mobile users: http://bit.ly/YVvbwM):
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