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Lt. Col. Chris Hastings, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, cuts the first piece of ceremonial birthday cake. Marines with the battalion took part in a Marine Corps birthday ceremony Nov. 10 at Camp Baharia in Fallujah, Iraq.

Photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann

Marines uphold time-honored tradition

10 Nov 2008 | Cpl. Chris T. Mann

 Marines with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, took a brief moment away from daily combat operations to celebrate the 233rd Marine Corps birthday at Camp Baharia in Fallujah, Iraq, Nov. 10.

 Excitement ran unusually high for a combat zone, while Marines took part in the time-honored tradition of the cake-cutting ceremony and the reading of Gen. John A. Lejeune’s and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway’s birthday messages.

 “Ceremonies like these remind you of the brotherhood of being a Marine and give you a sense of motivation to keep going.”said Lance Cpl. Michael Samuel, a 20-year-old administration clerk from Tuscaloosa, Ala. “It goes to show that no matter where we are, we can come together and have a nice ceremony.”

Marines from Companies B, C and Headquarters and Service attended the ceremony, some of whom traveled from combat outposts to celebrate the birthday alongside their fellow Marines.

The Marines stood in formation during the birthday messages and while the traditional first piece of birthday cake was cut.

 Lejune’s birthday message on Nov. 10, 1921 was the first ever read during an official birthday ceremony, and has been read each year since.

During the cake cutting ceremony, Lt. Col. Chris Hastings, commanding officer, 1st Bn., 4th Marines, passed a piece of cake to the oldest and youngest Marine present.

Traditionally, the oldest Marine receives a piece of cake first and then passes it to the youngest Marine present, representing the passing of knowledge from one Marine to another.

After the ceremony, Hastings addressed the Marines reminding them to continue their hard work and dedication.

 “We are on the absolute edge of winning the war in Iraq,” said Hastings. “You should be proud of what you have done over here and I am proud to share a meal with you and eat a slice of cake today.”