MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- To most, Nov. 10 is just like any other day, but for the few and the proud, it is one of the most significant days in their Corps’ history and is celebrated with pride during the Marine Corps Birthday Ball Celebration.
For 240 years the United States Marine Corps has been the nation’s force in readiness and has been called upon to support operations around the world. Each year, Marines in every clime and place pay homage to the Marine Corps’ continued dedicated service as a ready and relevant force deployed across the globe.
Although many Marines enjoy the typical lavish Marine Corps Birthday Ball ceremonies held at venues throughout the country, others like Company A, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, celebrated the Corps’ birthday in more austere conditions this year.
The company of Marines and Sailors celebrated the 240th birthday in the desert of Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona to cap off a 15-day field exercise.
The Marines and Sailors were in high spirits during the celebration, starting the evening off with a hot meal. Directly after, the Marines took their places around the lowered ramp of an Amphibious Assault Vehicle to hear the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John A. Lejeune’s birthday message and to witness the traditional cake cutting ceremony, followed by the viewing of the birthday message from the current commandant, Gen. Robert B. Neller.
“This right here is the heart of the Marine Corps, it’s what we do,” said 1st Lt. Sean Styerwalt, the headquarters company platoon commander with 3rd AA Bn. “As Marines we get out here and get dirty and we do what we have to do. We have been out here for 15 days, so we stink and some of us are tired but it’s a great deal and it’s probably the best birthday I’ve ever been a part of.”
The Marine Corps’ birthday is a time-honored tradition when past and present generations of Marines gather to commemerate the Corps’ storied history. There are various moments within the ceremony that capture the significance of Marine Corps legacy.
The cake cutting ceremony, which can be considered the most symbolic tradition of the ceremony, symbolizes the passing of responsibility and traditions from one generation of Marines to another.
No matter what the circumstance, Marines will set aside time to celebrate the traditions and legacy of the Marine Corps. While the celebration of the Corp’s birthday is a top priority among all commands, it never gets in the way of maintaining the readiness of its Marines.
“I think it’s great to celebrate out in the field here in Yuma because it’s what the Corps’ roots are,” said 1st Lt. Dillon Fuston, a platoon commander with 3rd AA Bn. “Marines look pretty in their dress blues and all but when it comes down to the dirty grit of it, all Marines are here to train and to fight. It’s good that we are out here because it reminds Marines what our duties are to the nation and to each other.”
At the end of the event, Capt. Brian Jaquitch, the company commander, expressed how proud he was of his Marines and their efforts throughout the training.
“I’m extremely proud of the company,” Jaquitch said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way these Marines trained and the skills they showed as a crew. The ceremony was pretty much the culminating event, so it was a great way to end the training portion of this exercise.”
Despite the layers of dirt and grease stained within their utilities and coveralls, the lack of showers and stomachs growling for a home-cooked meal, the Marines and Sailors successfully completed their training and showed they haven’t forgotten where they came from, remembering the long line of heroes who came before them.