GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- On a barren hillside on what is now Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, stands a lonely marker to indicate the site where on June 14, 1898, Marines launched an attack on the Spanish stronghold at Cuzco Wells, during the Spanish American War.
The marker also pays tribute to the heroic deeds of Sgt. John H. Quick and Pvt. John Fitzgerald, who earned the Medal of Honor for exposing themselves to heavy fire and signaling the USS Dolphin to shift its fire the Americans to the Spanish, which ultimately led to the Marines securing the stronghold.
On Aug. 5, Marines of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Continuing Promise 2010 visited the historical site, during a port stop at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
Approximately 500 Marines and Sailors are aboard the USS Iwo Jima during the ship’s four month deployment to the Caribbean, Central and South America to conduct humanitarian civic assistance, military familiarization, community relations and subject matter expert exchanges.
The 30 Marines of the Special-Purpose MAGTF had the unique opportunity to tour the naval base in Guantanamo and visit the site where Quick and Fitzgerald earned their place in history.
“As Marines, we take pride in our history and cherish any opportunity we can get to stand on hallowed ground,” said Lt. Col. Chris R. Richie, commanding officer of Special-Purpose MAGTF Continuing Promise 2010. “Anytime Marines get the chance to walk on the battlefields of their past, they gain an appreciation for those who went before them.”
As the Marines walked in the footsteps of Quick and Fitzgerald, they were periodically addressed by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Waterman, a member of the Special-Purpose MAGTF who was formerly stationed in Guantanamo Bay and was knowledgeable in the subject of the Marine Corps role during the Spanish American War.
“When I heard that we were going to Guantanamo, first I was excited to be returning after [changing duty stations] seven months ago,” said Waterman. “The next thing that came to mind is that I would be able to share my experience with the Marines of the Special-Purpose MAGTF. No matter how many times I stand on that ridgeline I am taken back and caught in awe, in remembrance of what our past Marines have accomplished.”
As Waterman passed on his knowledge to his fellow Marines, they gazed contemplatively over the U.S. territory in Cuba, each in a quiet reverence of the past, present and future of the Marine Corps.