MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
During November, the Marine Corps celebrates its past and present by holding birthday ceremonies hosted by the different units.
At each ball there is a guest of honor, which can range from current or former military personnel to civilians. At the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company ball, the distinguished guest was Vincent A. Sordello, a former Marine and survivor of the famous Battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.
The night began traditionally with cocktail hour and a birthday cake-cutting ceremony, followed by opening words from Lt. Col. Leland W. Suttee, the company commander.
“Having deployed with many of you, and then having trained with many of the new Marines within our ranks, I know what you’re capable of,” said Suttee. “When Marines leave this company or our Corps, I never worry about their future. I know what they can do and I know they’ll do the right thing. To me you are all a success.”
Suttee then introduced Sordello as the guest of honor to the rest of the Marines in the company and showed his respect by introducing him to the audience.
“If you live your life with honor and dignity, than you’ll be like my next door neighbor Vincent Sordello,” said Suttee. “A man who lives his life through leadership, honor and pride much like he did on the battlefield in Korea and Vietnam.”
As Sordello reached the podium, the room erupted in cheers and applause as they showed their respect for one of the last remaining members of the “chosin few,” a group of veterans who survived the harsh battle at the Chosin Reservoir.
“I could not adequately tell you what in honor and a privilege and humbling experience it is for me to be a part of our heritage and tradition by joining you in celebrating our Corps 236th birthday,” said Sordello. “My first Marine Corps birthday was many years ago in Korea. We had just finished an operation and I was getting recognized as the youngest Marine at our celebration. As I stepped forward I was handed my piece of cake by no other than Col. Chesty Puller himself.”
Sordello went on to give his opinions of how the Marine Corps has changed since he was in, and how honored he is to be amongst his kind once again.
“When I came in the Marine Corps in 1949, we were faced with segregation which was just ending. It was a difficult time for some, and hardly noticed by others,” said Sordello. “Today we have other challenges, but the Corps will be fine because you will not lose focus on who you are and what you are – Marines.”
The ceremony came to a close and the Marines enjoyed the rest of night with a birthday dinner and a filled dance floor to end the Marine Corps’ 236th birthday.