New Bern, N.C. --
Marines with 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, lifted their glasses in a toast at the New Bern Convention Center to honor the patron saint of artillery, St. Barbara March 1.
The event brought together Marine artillerymen as well as many other service members and guests within the artillery community to celebrate their passion and love for the job and observe St. Barbara’s Day.
According to legend, the patron saint was secluded in a tower by her father, the tyrant Dioscorus, to limit her exposure to Christianity. In her solitude, she gave herself to the religion, received instruction in Christianity and was baptized.
Her father, enraged by her conversion, tortured his daughter and eventually executed her by beheading. Afterward, God struck Dioscorus with lightning and only his scorched sword remained as a reminder of God’s vengeance.
Barbara logically came to be regarded as the sainted patroness of those in danger from thunderstorms, fire, and explosions. Artillerymen are all too familiar with the thunderous explosions of the M777 Howitzer, a towed 155 mm cannon.
The celebration consisted of an extravagant dinner, several awards recognizing Marines’ contributions within the fire support community and humorous skits before a night filled with dancing.
“The real importance of it is it gives us an opportunity to recognize Marines within the fire support community for their above and beyond contribution to the community,” said Col. Bradley R. Hall, of Sarasota, Fla. “This year we particularly recognized two awards: the Order of St. Barbara and the Ancient Order of St. Barbara. We didn’t award the Ancient Order last year which made this year a bit special.”
Hall, the regimental commander for 10th Marines, presented the award alongside Master Gunnery Sgt. James Whitley to Master Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Martin, the field artillery chief for the regiment. Martin, a Cleveland native, was awarded for his dedication and endless contributions to the artillery community.
Many cannoneers agree the Order of St. Barbara Medal is a prestigious award reserved for those Marines who have served many years within the military occupation. Hall agreed the celebration sets the fire support Marines apart from most other occupational specialties and branches of the military.
“I want to say we’re [one of] the only communities that has their own event that awards and recognizes people for achievement above and beyond,” explained Hall. “Not just doing your normal day job, but performing above and beyond what is expected of you.”
As the night drew to a close and St. Barbara was honored, the Marines and sailors of the regiment grew closer.
“They do this once a year, but for those of us that are not in the community, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for most, and for me it was a great time,” said Capt. Christopher Shore, an Elm Grove, Wis. native, and the assistant regimental logistics officer. “I would absolutely do it again and I would encourage anyone that’s invited as a guest to go do it and see how much they love it.” Shore added, “Because it’s an excellent look into the very unique world of artillery.”