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Marine Corps birthday more than a ball for Marines of 3/7

20 Nov 2005 | Cpl. Shane Suzuki

Third Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s commander, Lt. Col. Roger Turner, and sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Walter Kilgore, toured the city of Ar Ramadi Nov. 10. This wasn’t the normal tour of the area of operations though; they were visiting the Marines of the battalion and bringing with them some of the ceremony they would otherwise have missed during their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “It’s great to spend the Marine Corps birthday here,” said Maj. Michael Holmes, the battalion executive officer. “I couldn’t imagine a better place to spend it or a better group of young men to spend it with.” The first stop was Camp Hurricane Point where the Marines of Company K, Headquarters and Service Company and Weapons Company gathered for the ceremonial reading of former commandant of the Marine Corps General John A. Lejeune’s birthday message and the current commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee’s birthday message. Turner then cut the birthday cake and began the next phase of the tradition, the passing of the first piece of cake from the oldest to the youngest Marine present. In this case Kilgore, the oldest Marine present, handed the piece of cake to Pfc. Dewayne Butterworth, an infantryman with Weapons Company. When the ceremony ended, the Marines in attendance lined up to eat some cake and shake hands with the battalion commander before he left for two of the entry control points located near Hurricane Point. Once at the first ECP, Turner and a handful of Marines from Hurricane Point celebrated the birthday by once again reading the birthday messages and passing the cake from the oldest to the youngest. “For some people, the traditions we have here, like passing the cake between the oldest and youngest Marine, may seem strange or old-fashioned,” said Turner. “But what we are really doing here is carrying on a military history. The cake symbolizes what has made the Marine Corps so successful over the last two centuries, the passing of knowledge from the older generation to the younger. That trust and training has allowed the Marine Corps to become the finest fighting organization in the world.” Following the ceremony at the ECPs, Turner moved on to Camp Snake Pit, home of Company L, and Camp Ramadi, home of Company I. At both of these sites, they had a more formal ceremony that included the playing of “Anchor’s Aweigh” and “The Marine Corps Hymn,” along with the reading of the birthday messages and the cutting of the cake. Although spending the Marine Corps birthday away from loved ones in the states is tough, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines realize that the birthday is more than going to a ball or eating steak in the chow hall. The birthday is a chance to recognize the accomplishments of 230 years of military prowess and tradition – regardless of where the celebration takes place. “I’ve celebrated the birthday all over the world,” said Turner. “For those of you that have been in the Marine Corps for a few years, you know that sometimes you’ll be able to spend it in nice hotels in cities like San Diego and Las Vegas. But I’ve also spent it in the jungles of Okinawa and the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. What makes the birthday great is not where you celebrate it, it’s who you are spending it with, and I am honored to spend it with you young men.”