RAWAH, Iraq --
Following tradition steeped in hundreds of years of pride, the Marines of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 celebrated the Marine Corps’ 233rd Birthday while deployed to Iraq.
The celebration highlights the importance of tradition in the Marine Corps and its ability to adapt to different situations, especially in a deployed environment.
“It’s even more important when we celebrate (the birthday) here in Iraq. We’re here actually doing a mission that pertains to the Marine Corps’ involvement in the war on terrorism,” said Lt. Col. James B. Woulfe, commanding officer, 3rd Bn, 7th Marines.
Iraq isn’t new scenery for a Marine Corps birthday, especially for the Marines of 3rd Bn., 7th Marines, who were also deployed to Iraq last year for the birthday.
“The Marines that are here will definitely remember the birthday that they spent in Iraq, and for some of them, a series of birthdays that they spend in Iraq. For many Marines in the battalion, this will be the second birthday in a row that they spend in Iraq,” said Woulfe, who has celebrated four Marine Corps birthdays while deployed.
The birthday helped Marines forget about the stresses of being at war and being away from home. Marines seemed to have even more pride in their service and displayed even greater camaraderie than they did back at Twentynine Palms, Calif., where the battalion calls home.
“I find that when you’re deployed, especially like here in Iraq, you get more ‘Happy Birthday’s’ between Marines,” Woulfe said.
Even younger Marines have come to understand the importance of the celebration and welcome the tradition with open arms.
“It’s important to keep morale up. A happy Marine is a working Marine,” said Lance Cpl. Nick A. Gigliotti, a 20-year-old motor transportation driver from Johnstown, Pa., with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. “It’s my first time in country, so it’s nice to actually celebrate over here. This (birthday) is good because I’m here with a lot of my old buddies and new people I’ve met.”
Despite the sandy terrain and long working hours, being in Iraq didn’t seem to bother the Marines who know they are here for a reason.
“It’s great that we get to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday with all of our friends here in Iraq,” said Lance Cpl. Brad W. Nelson, a 19-year-old driver for Combined Anti-Armor Team Blue, Weapons Co., 3rd Bn., 7th Marines, from Waukesha, Wis. “It’s hard to imagine spending the birthday in a better place than where we’re fighting.”