U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command celebrated its 13th anniversary on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb. 21.
The anniversary event included a battle colors rededication ceremony to recognize some of the collective achievements by the service component. The commander, Maj. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, also recognized Marines and Sailors for their exemplary performance.
Since the unit’s inception, Raiders, a name adopted in 2015 in recognition of their forbearers, have earned more than 300 valor awards.
The composition of the unit has changed and expanded in the years since it was founded in October of 2005 at the direction of the Secretary of Defense, but according to Yoo, the unit’s moto, “Spiritus Invictus,” or unconquerable spirit, reverberates through the command.
“We saw that spirit in the Marines that are forward deployed,” said Yoo, about his recent visits to the Central and Africa Command’s area of operations. “We are in sustained combat. Today is about taking a pause to celebrate our past accomplishments and remember and honor those who have gone before.”
Raiders have found themselves in 17 countries to conduct more than 300 operational deployments, ranging from 14-man Marine Special Operations Teams, to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces overseeing American and coalition special operations forces, a scalable force, much like their conventional Marine brethren.
The organization has paid a high price for the victories it has achieved. The youngest and smallest of the DOD’s special operations forces, it has lost 43 souls in combat and in training, to include two multipurpose canines.
“Honoring our fallen and upholding their legacies are central virtues within MARSOC,” said Yoo, who pointed out the importance of the ceremony’s location, the memorial located in front of the headquarters, etched with the names of the fallen Raiders.
Both Yoo and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert B. Neller, who visited the headquarters, took time to meet with the family of Master Sgt. Thomas A. Saunders, who was killed in a training accident in March of 2015.
Neller, who arrived at Camp Lejeune Thursday with the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, also met with the awardees and their families, as well as commanding officers within the command.
“Marine Raiders continue to make impressive contributions to SOCOM’s efforts around the world,” said Neller. “I am sure their WWII Raider predecessors would be as proud of them as we are today. On this 13th anniversary, we cannot forget to pause and honor those MARSOC Marines who have given their last final measure too.”
According to Yoo, these Raiders have built a reputation for adaptability, determination and the spirit of innovation that all Marines are known for, making sure to point out, “Marines are who we are, special operations is what we do.”