Photo Information

Helen Toolan, wife of Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan Jr., cuts the birthday cake at the Lipstick and Camouflage Ball aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Nov. 4. The spouses attending the ball were told to wear modified military attire during the evening of continuous fun.

Photo by Cpl. Johnny Merkley

The Lipstick and Camouflage Ball

8 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Johnny Merkley

Every year the Marine Corps celebrates its birthday during the first few weeks of November. These ceremonies are held in honor of November 10, 1775 when the Corps was established in Philadelphia and its history began.

The traditional celebration consists of a ball held by the unit with birthday cake, music and dancing. Across the globe, Marines celebrate the birthday whether forward deployed or not. Marines in Afghanistan cannot celebrate the ball the same way as their fellow Marines in garrison, and neither can their spouses.

On Nov. 4, the spouses of deployed Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force gathered aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., to celebrate the ball in a fun and exciting fashion with lipstick and camouflage attire.

“I think this is really good for the wives to come here and be able to come together like this,” said Lindsay Harrison, wife of Staff Sgt. Timothy Harrison, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “It’s good to be around people that are experiencing the same difficulties as yourself.”

The night was filled with many ceremonial aspects one would find in a regular Marine Corps ball, with some extra added fun in between.

After cocktail hour, the spouses gathered in the ballroom and watched a video prepared by their deployed husbands thanking them and wishing them a happy Marine Corps birthday. The cake was brought out and the spouses who had the newest and oldest marriages were given the first two pieces of cake.

“I show many of the newlyweds that military life is possible and can work,” said Beth Cobb, wife of Capt. Chris Cobb, dental surgeon, 2nd Dental Battalion. “I have 10 kids and I’ve been married to my husband for 31 years with 14 deployments in between. These ceremonies bring the wives together and I show them anything is possible even in the difficult situations (we’re) in.”

Toward the end of the ceremony, the guest speaker, Roberta Gately, author of “Lipstick in Afghanistan,” spoke to the crowd before the night ended with the wives hitting the dance floor for some evening fun.

“Being newly married and seeing all the wives together like this really makes me happy,” said Taisha Brunner, wife of Sgt. Maj. Steven Brunner, Marine Attack Squadron 223. “This whole evening has been really fun and it really helps the hardships that many of these women are facing with their husbands deployed.”