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(Fred Zimmerman/Stars and Stripes)

Iwo Jima, March 8, 2006: Seaman Michael Benally, an operations specialist on the USS Essex, says a prayer on the black sand beach of Iwo Jima. The Essex and USS Harpers Ferry, carrying the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, stopped at the island to participate in the 61st anniversary commemoration ceremony. Benally, whose great uncle fought on the island, gathered a bottle of the famous sand for family members in St. Michael’s, Ariz. “I wanted to pay my respects to those who fought and died here,” he said. “And I was always taught to give something back if you take something.”

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