Photo Information

II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Zahn

2/6 celebrates 230th Marine Corps birthday in Iraq

10 Nov 2005 | Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Zahn

"Resolved, that two battalions of Marines be raised, consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions… that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of," reads “The Journal of the Continental Congress,” 10 November 1775. At sunset on Nov. 10, Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, gathered on the shores of Lake Baharia to celebrate the 230 years of history and tradition that resolution began. For 230 years, the Marine Corps has been the premier fighting force of the United States. “There are two kinds of Marine Corps birthdays,” said Lt. Col. Scott D. Aiken, the commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. “One kind is celebrated at home stations, full of pomp and circumstance, usually associated with time off, a holiday meal and a birthday ball in the accompaniment of a fine young lady. The second kind is celebrated while deployed, usually while underway on amphibious shipping, while deployed to Okinawa, or as has become customary recently, while deployed to a combat zone in the Middle East. Obviously we are celebrating the second kind of Marine Corps Birthday.” The ceremony began with the reading of the birthday message from the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General John A. Lejeune. After the message was read, the battalion chaplain, Navy Lt. Timothy R. Hall, delivered a prayer for the Marine Corps. The reading of Gen. M. W. Hagee’s, the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, birthday message followed the invocation. This was followed by a cake-cutting ceremony that is customary at Marine Corps birthday celebrations worldwide. The first piece of cake that is cut is given to the unit’s commanding officer. The second piece is given to the oldest Marine present and passed to the youngest. Chief Warrant Officer Gregory Melotte, a 47-year-old Green Bay, Wis., native, the oldest Marine present, received the cake and passed it to the youngest Marine present, Pfc. Teddy J. Cardenas, an 18-year-old, West New York, N.J., native. “It felt great to celebrate my first Marine Corps birthday,” said Cardenas, who joined the Marine Corps on Dec. 27, 2004. Cardenas said he is celebrating several firsts with the battalion. He is with his first unit on his first deployment. He checked into the battalion Aug. 27, less than a month before the battalion left for Iraq. Melotte, however, is in the twilight of a successful career in the Marines. He will hit the 30-year mark in January but will not retire until the battalion returns from their deployment next year.