CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Fighting Fourth were back at Camp Lejeune for a formal deactivation and to say their last goodbyes.
A journey that started more than 70 years ago coming to an end. Members of the Fourth Marine Division, also known as the Fighting Fourth were formally activated August 14th, 1943 aboard Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune officials said no division saw fiercer competition than the Fighting Fourth, who served in Iwo Jima, Siapan and throughout the Pacific during World War II.
Retired Marine Wendell Trent reflected on the major role he played in saving a fellow comrade’s life.
“I went from shell hole to shell hole, crawling, running, jumping, looking for this boy and after a while I found him. He was still alive, he was glad to see me,” said Trent.
During their time overseas, more than 71 thousand Marines served in four major battles in the islands. More than 17 thousand were wounded. Those that remain are legends.
“77 living legends, from our history,” said Camp Lejeune Brigadier General Thomas Weidley. “We read about in history books, we read about them in Wikipedia, we read about them on the internet. But to actually see them in person, to sit with them and talk with them is an absolutely unbelievable once in a lifetime experience for our Marines.”
Veterans and current Marines alike participated along side in a symbolic ceremony rolling up and casing the unit’s flag, signifying the official deactivation of the association.
Association President Elmer Dapron said original artifacts and the unit’s flag will be housed at the Museum of the Marine in Jacksonville, N.C. to ensure their legacy lives on.
“Our legacy will continue, and their children will continue,” said Dapron. “And 100 years from now, children will say whatever happened with great great grandfather, where can we find something about him? And they can come here and they will have it in the archives.”
As for Trent, he will always remember the final moments with the fellow Marine whose life he saved.
“Finally, I got him on my back and I said ‘Let’s go!’ and I took off elbow and knees, he on my back holding on to my neck,” said Trent. “I wish i knew his name, I wish i knew if he lived, never have known.”