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CARLSBAD, Calif. – John F. Farritor, a retired first sergeant and the oldest Marine in the room, bites into a birthday cake presented to him by Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, the 1st Marine Division commanding general, during a dinner in celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the 1st Marine Division at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., Feb. 1, 2013. Farritor, 93-year-old member of the 1st Marine Division Association, and a resident of Vista, Calif., served as an artilleryman from 1941 to 1971. He saw action in the Korean War in the 11th Marine Regiment under the command of Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jacob H. Harrer)

Photo by Sgt. Jacob H. Harrer

Marines, veterans honor 72nd anniversary of 1st Marine Division

1 Feb 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joseph Scanlan

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines serving with 1st Marine Division celebrated the division’s 72nd anniversary during a battle colors rededication ceremony here, Feb. 1.

Major General Ronald Bailey, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, fastened the streamers to the battle colors signifying the many campaigns, expeditions, battles and decorations presented to the division since its founding.

The celebration began a day earlier when veterans and members of the 1st Marine Division Association who served in the Marine Corps and Navy decades ago visited regiments and battalions from Camp Las Pulgas to Camp San Mateo.

It was a chance to reconnect with the units they once served with, and meet the new generation of Marines and sailors who continue their legacy.

As the “Old Breed,” a moniker given to the first generation of 1st Marine Division Marines, visited their old stomping grounds, they enjoyed learning about the weapons, vehicles and technology that Marines use overseas and in combat today.

“The technology that the Marine Corps has nowadays is overwhelming,” said Tom Kelly, a member of the 1st Marine Division Association. “No matter how much the technology and weapons change, the discipline, spirit and pride is still very much here, as much as it was 50 years ago.”

The 1st Marine Division Association is comprised of Marines and sailors who now serve or who have served with the division, and gather as a “Family of Warriors” to share their past memories and experiences in the military.

The association has annual reunions and anniversary celebrations every Feb. 1 to provide a venue for all generations of Marines and sailors to honor the division’s past heroes and the Marines who serve today.

“It’s a great means for us to bring in some of our veterans who truly are the legacy of our division,” said Maj. Dan Whitley, the operations officer of 11th Marine Regiment. “They made this place to what it is today. It’s great for us to interact with them and show them where the Corps is going.”

For the Marines who served during the infant years of the division in World War II, to the Marines who serve in Afghanistan today, celebrating the 1st Marine Division’s birthday honors all who served with the Blue Diamond and encompass the motto, “No Better Friend. No Worse Enemy.”