ARABIAN GULF --
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos, Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett, and distinguished guests visited the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer Dec. 27 to thank Marines and sailors assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group for their service.
Just days after visiting troops in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, Amos, his wife Bonnie, Barrett and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota L. Meyer continued their holiday venture to wish a Merry Christmas and happy holidays to the Marines and sailors deployed halfway around the world aboard Boxer.
Marines and sailors gathered on the flight deck where Amos spoke to them about warrior ethos and praised them for their selfless service during the holidays.
"We want you to know that we care deeply for you and the fact that you are away from your family," Amos said.
Bonnie Amos, "First Lady of the Marine Corps," thanked the Marines for their service and reminded Marines and sailors to thank loved ones back home who also serve on the homefront while their warriors are away.
"There's no other place on the planet that we want to be or that we should be during this special time of the year than right here," Barrett said. "We're privileged that we get to serve in this capacity, and we're humbled that you do serve because you could be doing anything that you wanted in your life. So I'm blown away and I'm humbled."
The commandant's visit coincides with his "Reawakening Tour," during which he and Barrett seek to "return to our roots...to those time-tested policies and orders that we intuitively know are right."
Barrett said that out of an estimated 310 million Americans in the United States, four percent of the nation wears a military uniform and less than one tenth of a single percent will ever wear the uniform of a United States Marine.
"You chose to be tougher people and to make a difference," he said. "The great tragedy in life is not death -- it's not having a purpose. If you look at our young history -- 237 years old -- that's how old our nation is. This is the first time we have ever been at war this long -- we are going on our 13th year. Never in our nation's history have we fought this long with an all-volunteer force."
Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Marine Corps corporal during the Battle of Ganjgal in 2009 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, also addressed the crowd. When asked about his award, Meyer admitted that he did not want to accept it because "it's not about me.”
"It's just as much yours as it is mine," Meyer said as he insisted that anyone who wears the uniform would have done the same thing as he did in that situation.
Marines and sailors took turns taking photos with Amos, Barrett, and Meyer before their departure.
Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer ARG and, with the embarked 13th MEU, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.