MCAS Yuma marks Ma­rine Corps’ birth­day

Yuma Sun - - NEWS - BY JAMES GILBERT @YSJAMESGILBERT

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.

Buy th­ese pho­tos at Yu­maSun.com PHO­TOS BY JAMES GILBERT/YUMA SUN

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.

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