CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Every year around midsummer, about midday, you can spot an arguably peculiar event beginning to form up in the thick grassy plains and dirt roads leading from the Los Pulgas area of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Down the path the entire 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, led by a bagpiper, comes marching in a scene reminiscent of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in the Great War as they head to Red Beach, an area used for the Marine Corps’ forte: amphibious operations and training. And when they get to the beach they begin to compete in games and feast in true warrior fashion.
The tradition, known as the Highlander Games Warrior Night, was instituted in 1998 and corresponds with the Battalion’s anniversary. It pays homage to the traditions of the famous Scottish Soldiers of the past after whom the battalion is nicknamed, the Highlanders.
To celebrate the battalion’s 30th Anniversary, festivities kicked off with a rededication ceremony highlighting the combat unit’s short but illustrious battle history.
During the precisely executed ceremony, Lt. Col. Christian M. Rankin, the battalion’s commanding officer, stood before a formation of the four companies that comprise his unit and attached the battle streamers the unit has earned to the battalion’s organizational colors.
A bell rang in honor of the men who have lost their lives in service to their nation as part of the battalion.
“Today is about reflection – reflecting on our purpose, reflecting on our history, reflecting on those who came before us, and reflecting on the future,” stated Rankin as he addressed his men and the guest who attended the event.
He added that the annual time for reflection was not only to think about history and sacrifice, but also a way for his Marines and Sailors to feel a connection to the unit’s forefathers, and to define the obligation they have to those who will follow in their own footsteps.
“Please think about this for a moment: if we as human beings – as Marines and Sailors – have no connection with or need for those who have come before us, and if we have no responsibility or obligation to those who come after us, then our personal and professional lives would have little meaning,” he said.
Shortly after the speech, the battalion formed up and moved out to the sound of bagpipes, marching approximately three miles to the beach, where they conducted several friendly competitions.
Games included grappling, a Humvee pull, tug-o-war, and the culminating event: the caber toss. During this event, a heavy pole is thrown for distance.
After completing the games, the Marines and Sailors enjoyed a camaraderie-filled atmosphere around a bonfire while feasting on barbeque and listing to live music as played by a local Irish-Scottish-style rock band.