Happy birthday Semper Fi; Marines celebrate tradition, honor, resilience
Lt. Col. Darrell Platz, commanding officer, Marine Aircraft Group 41, Detachment Alpha, cuts a cake in honor of the 236th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. In keeping with tradition, the first piece of cake was handed to the oldest Marine present, Sgt. Maj. Charles Dillree, and then to the youngest, Pfc. Elizabeth Kelley. This symbolizes the passing of history and traditions to the next generation of Marines. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Laura Mowry)
by Kate Blais
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
11/16/2011 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In a ceremony that focuses on maintaining a tradition of service with honor and valor, Marine Aircraft Group 41, Detachment Alpha celebrated the 236th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps with a traditional cake-cutting ceremony and a 5K trail run.
The cake-cutting ceremony was carried out Nov. 10 with full pomp in keeping with the Marines' rich tradition and history.
"To our Marines in the audience who no longer wear our uniform, it is especially great to have you here," said Lt. Col. Darrell W. Platz, commanding officer of MAG-41 Det. A.
"Your presence represents what today's cake-cutting ceremony is all about -- the passing of our Corps' rich history and tradition to our next generation of Marines. By being here today, you demonstrate to our current generation of Marines that our birthday tradition is not 'just-a-while-you-are-in thing,' but a lifelong devotion," he said.
Further symbolizing that devotion is the tradition surrounding the actual cutting of the cake.
Holding to custom, when the cake was cut a piece was given by Platz to the oldest Marine present - Sgt. Maj. Charles Dillree - who then passed the piece on to the youngest Marine present - Pfc. Elizabeth Kelley. This symbolizes the passage of wisdom and tradition from each generation of Marines to the next. It also signifies both the experience and youthful spirit that are hallmarks of the Corps.
More than 100 gathered to celebrate the event, including Brig. Gen. Robert C. Nolan II, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center; Col. Gregory E. Schwab, commander of the 95th Air Base Wing; and Col. Dawn M. Dunlop, commander of the 412th Test Wing.
During the ceremony the traditional Marine birthday message was read and the crowd listened to a message from Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Corps Commandant. Platz paid special tribute to World War II Marines, three of whom attended the event and rose to applause from those present.
Platz also addressed active duty Marines in attendance.
"To those of us who still wear our uniform...we have been handed an incredible gift, a legacy of excellence, faithfulness and valor. Now it is our turn, we have been entrusted with ensuring that the legacy of our Corps continues.
"Marines, each day that you wear this uniform, wear it with pride, honor and integrity...and some day, when eventually you leave the Marine Corps, you will be able to look back on your service and know that the Marine Corps and America are better for you having been a part of it," Platz said.
The 5K trail run was sponsored by the newly formed Mental Health Flight Resilience Element Nov. 10, in the hills behind the Medical Clinic.
The event was designed with the idea of resiliency in mind by commemorating the island-hopping campaign conducted by the Marines in the Pacific during World War II.
"We chose to have the event on the actual USMC birthday, which in and of itself is a time-honored event for U.S. Marines," said Air Force Capt. Chadwick B. Ackison, 95th Medical Operations Squadron, Resilience Element lead, event organizer and previously enlisted Marine.
"In hosting the event as a trail run, which will take the participant over some fairly challenging and technical terrain, we hope to illustrate and increase awareness to non-USMC members the significance of the sacrifices made in the Pacific," Ackison said.
Along the way, participants passed flags that represented the Pacific islands secured by the Marines during WWII, such as Iwo Jima and the Battle of Guadalcanal. Each flag was positioned at the top of an incline to represent struggle and challenge.
This trail run was the first base community outreach project for the Resilience Element. The element is focused on prevention of mental health issues, such as combat operation stress, before issues start.
Recognizing the island campaigns was a way of honoring demonstration of valor, fortitude and resiliency, said Ackison.
While the trail run was hosted to honor those values demonstrated by Marines in the Pacific during WWII, the Marine Corps birthday is one of the ways Marines celebrate their history.
"This represents the brotherhood that started in Tun Tavern," said Marine Sgt. Lucas Rockey, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, Det. A. "It's awesome to see everyone come out and support this."
Rockey is referring to a committee from the Continental Congress that met at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia in 1775 to draft a resolution calling for patriots that were able to fight for independence at sea and on shore, and thus the Marine Corps was born.
"This allows those of us wearing the uniform today an opportunity to share, reflect, and pay honor to all Marines that have worn our uniform since Nov. 10, 1775," said Dillree, MAG-41, Det. A sergeant major. "We remember that throughout most of our 236 years as a Marine Corps we have been engaged in armed conflict, somewhere around the world, on behalf of our country. Currently we have Marines deployed or stationed in over 140 countries worldwide.
"Events like this morning's run," Dillree said, "help the memory of sacrifice. Not just Marines, anyone who serves or loves our way of life, so many thousands of men and women in uniform gave their lives in defense of everything we have today. We should never forget that."