ABOARD USS PELELIU -- On a balmy day, as Expeditionary Strike Group-One plied the waters of the Pacific Ocean heading west, Sailors and Marines paused for a moment to honor the Americans killed in the terrorist attacks two years ago today.
The Marines and Sailors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) joined the Peleliu?s crew and ESG-1 staff on the flight deck, where Capt. Pam Markiewicz, the ship's captain, recalled the events of 9-11. She also spoke solemnly about two friends of hers who died when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon.
"It is important that we never forget the price Brady, Vinnie, their families, and so many others paid on that Tuesday morning two years ago," she said. "That was the day that forced us, as a nation, to face the fact that there is evil in the world, and it was the events of that day that demanded that evil be tolerated no more."
Following her remarks, Markiewicz introduced Rear Adm. Bob Conway, ESG-1 commander, who thanked the crew for joining him and said 9-11 was the reason each Sailor and Marine in the seven-ship strike group was part of ESG-1.
"You are a direct result of those occurrences," said Conway. "You have been built from the ground up for the war against terrorism."
The ceremony, which lasted about 20 minutes, was set against the backdrop of an American flag draped down one side of Peleliu's six-story superstructure. U.S., Navy and Marine Corps battle colors flapped in the wind, the only noise heard during the moment of silence prescribed in honor of the fallen.
Sgt. Garth Phoebus then blew TAPS on a coronet, the mournful notes carrying across the entire flight deck, and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." played from loudspeakers.
Marines found different meaning in the ceremony.
"It brought back a lot of memories," said 24-year-old Joseph L. Dickens, airframer, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), who was deployed with the 15th MEU when the attacks in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa. occurred.
According to Phoebus, having the ceremony to remember the victims of 9-11 was important during a deployment expected to last eight months.
"Our long deployment makes me feel good because it makes me feel like we're out here doing something," said Phoebus. "It doesn't matter how long we're out here; whether it be a year, two years, six months, we're out here doing something, contributing."
For Lance Cpl. Nickolas Mosley, the event provided affirmation for his service.
"It made me feel like I have a reason to be out here," said the 20-year-old Oklahoma City, native.
Conway reaffirmed the value of each Marine and Sailor's contribution and said service is also a privilege.
"To be serving one's country as the winds of war blow across the world - there is no greater honor."