AL QA'IM, Iraq --
“I was born Nov. 10th , 1775, in a little place called Tun Tavern,” said Pfc. Robinson Moore, a weapons gunner with the battalion commander’s security detachment of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2.
To most, a 232-year-old private first class in the Marine Corps would seem inconceivable. Though as Marines, this time-honored date is traditionally what they claim as their own birthday.
Marines at the ends of the earth can knowingly, on this day, take part in a showing of camaraderie and tradition that unite them with every Marine of past and present.
The Betio Bastards of Task Force 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines, took the time to gather in celebration of their birthday in the midst of supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
As the cake detail made their way through the elaborately decorated dining facility, a sense of pride could be seen in the eyes of the Marines standing firmly at attention.
The heritage behind the cake-cutting ceremony stems back to 1952, when then commandant, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepard, established several ceremonial customs.
“I was honored to be selected to carry the cake,” said Cpl. Michael A. Searles, an administrative clerk with the battalion. “The Marine Corps is built on tradition. You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you came from, so we celebrate our past to help improve our future.”
As per tradition, the oldest and youngest Marine in attendance are served the first pieces of cake. Lieutenant Col. Peter B. Baumgarten, the battalion commander, presented the oldest Marine, Lt. Col. Ronald A Gridley, with a piece, who in turn passed the piece of cake to the youngest Marine, Lance Cpl. Alexis Maldonado, as a symbol of passing the torch from the old generation to the new.
“I think it’s only fitting that the battalion celebrates the Marine Corps birthday while forward deployed, doing what Marines are bred to do,” said Searles. “It’s a good opportunity for all Marines in the chain of command to build camaraderie and to help the cohesion of the battalion.”
At the conclusion of the official ceremony, Marines, soldiers and sailors stationed here were treated to a feast that included lobster, steak and, of course, a piece of the traditional birthday cake.
Celebrating this revered event embodies the immense pride that is the Marine Corps. It is not only ritual, but to members of this professional and feared fighting force, it’s a reminder of Marines continuing to push forward fighting for freedom.
“The essence of what it is to be a Marine is here with us tonight,” said Baumgarten. “Happy birthday Marines.”