MCAS Yuma marks Marine Corps’ birthday
Marines and sailors from across Marine Corps Air Station Yuma celebrated the United States Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday Thursday morning during its traditional cake-cutting ceremony and uniform pageant, which were held on the parade field.
The annual celebration also included a reading of the nowfamous birthday message issued 96 years ago by the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Maj. Gen. John Lejeune, who directed that the order be read to every command each subsequent year on Nov. 10 in honor of the founding of the Marine Corps.
It also included pre-prepared remarks from Gen. Robert B. Neller, the 37th commandant of the Marine Corps. They were read aloud to those in attendance by the master of ceremonies, and there was a brief speech by MCAS Yuma commanding officer Col. David Suggs.
Gen. Neller, in his message, spoke about the Corps’ historical legacy, saying this year’s birthday marked a number of significant milestones, including the 100-year anniversary of the World War I battle of Belleau Wood and the entry of women into the Corps.
“The legacy of the first female Marine reservists, and all trailblazing Marines, serves as a reminder that the title of Marine is not restricted by gender, color or creed,” Gen. Neller wrote in his remarks. “It is a warrior spirit distinguished by an elite group.”
He said this year also marked 50 years since Marines fought in some of the most ferocious battles of the Vietnam War, including the battle for Hue City during the Tet Offensive, learning valuable lessons which proved crucial to the Corps’ success in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
“As we celebrate our 243rd birthday, Marines remain in combat, forward deployed throughout the world performing every challenge with courage, loyalty and faithfulness,” Gen. Neller continued. “Each year on this day we renew our resolve to be the most ready, when the nation is the least ready.”
He also wrote that, “Marines have fought and won whenever and wherever the nation calls. In the harshest conditions, of the most brutal terrain, and against the most formidable enemies, Marines defend the ideals of freedom with grit and tenacity. Though battlefields change and capabilities evolve, history proves that true victory comes from the individual Marine with steeled resolve, the drive to overcome any obstacle, and the warrior spirit to fight on against all odds.”
When Col. Suggs spoke, he talked about the special bond among Marines.
“We are coming together today to celebrate the essence we share that will keep us connected for the rest of our lives. That title is Marines. Whether you are active duty, reserve or retired, the title Marine is what connects us and allows us to be part of something far greater than ourselves,” Suggs stated. “We have much to reflect on. We are grateful for the warriors that have paved the way for us. It is their lasting legacy that inspires us to move forward and prepare for future challenges.”
He also thanked the community for its support, saying it is the Marine Corps’ responsibility to be ready to fight on behalf of the nation at any given moment and the relationship MCAS Yuma has with the City of Yuma allows it to do just that.
In keeping with a Marine Corps tradition that was being celebrated worldwide, the ceremonial birthday cake was wheeled out by a detail of four Marines. Moments afterward, a Navy corpsman repelled 100 feet out of a SAR HH1N Huey helicopter to deliver the Mameluke sword that Col. Suggs used to cut the birthday cake.
The Mameluke sword is used as a reminder that the Marines are a band of warriors, dedicated to carrying the sword, so that the nation may live in peace.
The first slice of cake was then presented to the oldest Marine present at the air station, who then passed it to the youngest Marine, which symbolized the passing of experience and knowledge from one generation to another.
The purpose of the uniform pageant, in which Marines dressed in historic uniforms dating from the Revolutionary War to modern times, was to showcase the history of the Marine Corps and the men and women of different eras who answered their nation’s call over the past two centuries.
The Marine Corps, which traces its roots to two battalions of Continental Marines formed Nov. 10, 1775, was initially designed as a force capable of operating at sea and ashore during the Revolutionary War.
A HIGHLIGHT OF THURSDAY’S BIRTHDAY CEREMONY was a uniform pageant, in which Marines dressed in historic uniforms, dating from the Revolutionary War to modern times, took position on the parade field as the narrator highlighted the Marine Corps’ actions during those times. A U.S. Navy corpsman repels 100 feet out of a SAR HH-1N Huey helicopter (right) to deliver the Mameluke sword that Col. David Suggs used to cut the cake.