MOJJJO Patriotic Tribute 2016

Beneath the pristine blue skies of summer, USMC Sergeant Major (ret.) E. L. Mayfield along with military personnel, veterans, and supporters made the annual pilgrimage from North Carolina to various war memorials throughout Washington, D.C. He was flanked by the same Marines that joined him in the freezing rain and sleet of last year’s tribute — Staff Sergeant Ramon Vega and Sergeant Humberto Lopez — throughout sites where they honored the fallen military servicemen and servicewomen, active duty personnel, veterans, their families and supporters, and first-responders.

This time, they swapped the ice and slush for the heat and sweat of the D.C. summer. But the challenges the weather presents neither deterred nor dwindled their ceremonial tributes and honor for those who serve. On June 18, 2016, the SgtMaj and members of the Military Outreach Judo & Ju Jitsu Organization, Inc. (MOJJJO, Inc.) paid honorable tribute in full USMC regalia. At each of their three stops — Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and United States Marine Corps War Memorial — they performed a sacred Ceremony of the Ashes.

Wreath-laying & Ceremony of the Ashes

During the Washington, D.C. portion of their journey, the day begins with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. A moment of silence, the mournful wail of “Taps,” and dignified salutes honor all those who sacrificed for the freedoms enjoyed by the living.

For the Ceremony of the Ashes, a ceremonial processional march is performed to their destination with an urn containing consecrated ashes. The ashes were once pieces of papers bearing the names of military service members, intentions, and hopes. At each stop, a portion of those ashes are scattered to the wind after a brief, meditative pause. The ceremony ends with a salute and recessional. Even with the sun beating-down upon them and sweat streaming from their faces, their discipline and reverence was just as unshaken as last year.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

Changing of the Guard ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. The sentinels are replaced hourly in a highly precise and ritualized ceremony. A white-glove inspection is performed on the incoming sentinel’s M-14 rifle and a full visual inspection is performed of his uniform. During this inspection, the on-duty sentinel continues his patrol and swap occurs seamlessly so as not to leave the tomb unguarded for a moment.

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“Love Eyes” waits patiently in the shade prior to the MOJJJO wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

World War II Veteran Lt. Roy Englert and Mrs. D. M. Mayfield lay the wreath before the Tomb of the Unknowns

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(left to right) Maureen B. Englert, Mrs. Pat Walker, Lt. Roy Englert, and Mrs. D. M. Mayfield render their respects during the playing of “Taps” at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

SgtMaj. E. L. Mayfield and GySgt. Lee Walker salute during “Taps” at the wreath-laying ceremony.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

World War II veteran, Lt. Roy Englert, prepares to perform the Ceremony of the Ashes adjacent to the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery as his wife, Maureen, looks on. Lt. Englert saw military action on D-Day, Southern France, and Okinawa.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

“The Three Soldiers” by Frederick Hart

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

Sgt. Humberto Lopez, SgtMaj. E. L. Mayfield, and Ssgt. Ramon Vega field questions from curious students at the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

SSgt. Ramon Vega performs the Ceremony of the Ashes at “The Wall” of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC
Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Sgt. Humberto Lopez performs the Ceremony of the Ashes at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the “Iwo Jima Memorial” is the final stop of the MOJJJO, Inc. Patriotic Tribute and Ceremony of the Ashes. The remaining ashes are sprinkled here and the tribute concludes with a ceremonial march around the iconic memorial.

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC
Daniel Sone Photography, LLC
Daniel Sone Photography, LLC

Daniel Sone Photography, LLC - military tribute photographer

The warm weather enabled a lot more of these veterans’ families and friends to participate in this year’s MOJJJO Patriotic Tribute and Ceremony of the Ashes.

MOJJJO, Inc.

MOJJJO is a non-profit organization based out of Jacksonville, NC that serves the military and civilian communities to facilitate mutual welfare and maximum reward for effort via the Japanese martial art of Judo. MOJJJO also helps combat veterans battle the effects of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) — a “hidden wound” — through martial arts training. SgtMaj (ret.) Mayfield is a Vietnam veteran who has an intimate understanding of the effects close-quarters combat has on soldiers as well as the effectiveness of judo to preserve one’s life when in extreme danger, “It works.”

Judo isn’t just about effective combat and self-defense techniques, but it is really about self-cultivation through the discipline and community of the martial art. Through judo training, the practitioner quickly realizes that he/she must be in control of themselves before being effective. This along with the partner-centric training — you can’t really do Judo without a willing partner — instills a sense of mutual benefit. PTSD is a condition where the sufferer feels a loss of control and often times feels isolated. Judo is a direct contradiction to those problems and why it is at the core of MOJJJO.

  • cecilia said:

    beautiful photography and very well written. what a tribute to our fallen hero's and these amazing Military personnel who continue this tradition in all types of weather conditions.

  • I know that these men are extraordinary judo teachers that exude the principles and mores of the martial art. To see them in this setting only solidifying my respect and awe of them.