Marines celebrate Corps' 228th birthday
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marines gathered Friday to celebrate the Corps’ 228th birthday, which officially is Monday, at a cake-cutting ceremony and uniform pageant.
The ceremony began with the march of colors and the United States and Japan national anthems, followed by an invocation.
Marines, dressed in period uniforms, appeared.
One by one, Marines came out and stood at parade rest in front of viewing stands for an abbreviated history lesson of each uniform.
After the pageant, the annual reading of the 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune’s birthday message, was read, followed by current Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael W. Hagee’s message.
Commanding General of Camp Butler Brig. Gen. James Flock then addressed the audience.
“For many years, the Marine Corps has been engaged in some of the most fiercest fighting the world has ever seen,” Flock said. “But Marines don’t ask for war, instead we seek peace for all nations. And that is why for 228 years the Marine Corps has stood ready to answer the call to arms.
“Today is not a day for fighting. Instead it is a day for celebrating and recognizing our traditions of honor, courage and commitment. It is a day to remember those Marines who have gone before us.
“And it is a day to remember our comrades who are currently deployed worldwide … in order to maintain peace and stability in an uncertain world.”
Following the keynote address, Flock conducted the ceremonial cake-cutting and presented a piece to the oldest and youngest Marine, as well as the oldest retired Marine employee of Camp Butler.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Octavio Smith of the Provost Marshal’s Office was the oldest Marine — Smith was born March 15, 1948.
The youngest Marine was Pfc. Derek Richardson of 9th Engineer Support Battalion. He was born Oct. 16, 1985.
Bill Hapgood, born Jan. 23, 1934, the Range Training Area manager for the central training area, was the oldest retired Marine employee.
He joined the Marine Corps in 1951 as a private and retired in 1988 as a lieutenant colonel.
“One of the things I enjoy most is working with the young Marines,” Hapgood said. “I think that’s what keeps me so young.”