Sailors, Marines come together for Navy birthday

31 Oct 2006 | Pfc. Joseph D. Day

At the clock strike of 8 a.m., Oct. 13, one Marine rang the bell outside the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Building marking the 231st birthday of the Navy.  Since its conception in 1775, sailors have displayed their excellence in service.

The Navy has proven itself time and time again fighting off the world’s most powerful navy in the Revolutionary War to fighting off the seemingly never ending Japanese kamikaze fighters in World War II.

The ceremony began with the flag raising and the 2nd Marine Division Band playing “To The Colors.”  Col. Vincent R. Stewart, Headquarters Battalion commanding officer, then addressed the troops.

After the speech, a birthday cake was presented to Stewart which he cut the cake with the traditional noncommissioned officers sword. The first piece was presented to the oldest sailor present who then passed it to the youngest sailor symbolizing the passing of knowledge and tradition.

Chief Petty Officer James M. Kwasnik, the oldest sailor in 2nd Marine division, said, “It was a privilege and an honor to be apart of this ceremony.  It was very special to me because this will probably be my last one.”

Kwasnik has been in the Navy for nearly 24 years.  For the past four years he received the piece of cake during this annual ceremony as the oldest sailor.  As a tradition, Kwasnik started passing a coin to the youngest sailor each year in hopes the junior sailor would begin collecting them.

For Seamen Abraham J. Marrero, the youngest sailor in 2nd Marine Division, This was a new experience.

“It was awesome.  It felt like a lot of heritage and traditions were passed to me when I received the cake.”

The cake was retired bringing the ceremony to a close.

It felt good to have the Marines there as well as sailors,” said Morrero, as the Marines present joined them for refreshments.  “The Marines are our brothers, and to have them here makes it a better celebration.”