HUSAYBAH, Iraq -- Marines celebrate the birth of their service each year on Nov. 10 by recognizing their past achievements and looking forward to another historic year.
This year was no exception as Marines around the globe celebrated their birthday in the traditional ways. However, Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and their brethren with Regimental Combat Team 2 celebrated their birthday the only way they could … by continuing their mission during Operation Steel Curtain.
The Marines with 1st Platoon, Company D, 1st LAR, got the chance to blow out the candles on their cake by destroying a cache found while on patrol.
“I’m so proud to belong to an organization with such heritage and to be continuing it to this day,” said Sgt. Jeffery D. Brown, a vehicle commander with 2nd Platoon. “To do my job to such a great effect on this day is the icing on the cake.”
In the early morning, they set out on a foot patrol along the outskirts of the city to clear houses and search for weapons. They met some of the local populace and answered some of their questions.
“Some of them understand why we are here and are happy to see us, while others see us as a threat and treat us as such,” said Lance Cpl. Jake R. Roby, a 19-year-old radio operator with the platoon. “But it will never stop us from doing our job, especially on a day like today.”
The Marines continued throughout the morning, only stopping when necessary. As they neared the end of town and their limit for the day, they found odd objects in an open field near a location where they had been in an engagement a few days prior.
“We found some homemade rockets and what looked like an improvised explosive device,” explained the 30-year-old Eureka, Calif., native. “When people see us doing things like that, they know we are helping and we feel better by taking things that could harm us and the people.”
Before combat engineers with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion destroyed the small find, the Marines found cover behind a mound near an uninhabited building. While they were preparing to rest until the weapons were destroyed, another engineer sweeping the area uncovered a cache.
The cache, which was in three separate spots within a few feet of each other, included five 122mm mortars, one 130mm mortar, a ballistic window, nine anti-tank mines and an IED.
“They’ve been running and hiding all over the place and they have the advantage of being at home,” said the Grand Pass, Ore., native and 2004 North Valley High School graduate. “But every step we take is another blow to their effort and every cache we find takes more firepower from them. Knowing that lets me know the part we play is going well.”
Once again, the engineers prepared to destroy the cache in the building while the other Marines swept the rest of the area before watching from a safe vantage as the enemy’s weapons were destroyed with a satisfying boom.
As night fell, they patrolled back to their company’s position where a hot meal in honor of their birthday awaited them.
Company D’s commanding officer, Capt. Christopher J. Shimp, read the commandant’s birthday message later that night under the full moon and presented a piece of cake to the oldest and youngest Marine, a birthday tradition.
“A lot of things have changed, but not our traditions, guidance or leadership, and I’ve become better because of them and I will be able to pass them on to future troops,” said Roby, the youngest Marine in the platoon. “On this important date, I feel great out here doing what we represent: helping the weak, fighting the enemy, doing what we trained so much to do. I’m just so proud.”
“This is the culminating point of my career, and to be out here on the Marine Corps’ birthday is an honor,” said Brown, the oldest member on the patrol. “At 230 years, we only get better with time and I’m so happy to be a part of something like that.”