Marines in Iraq pause to celebrate Corps' 231st birthday
November 11, 2006
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq — Everybody loves a birthday, especially when it’s the birthday of everyone present.
“It makes me feel like part of a family,” said Lance Cpl. LaRontae Skipper of Montgomery, Ala. “We’ve all got the same birthday. Oorah.”
The 1st Marines Logistics Group, which is charged with receiving and delivering military goods and people throughout Anbar province, took a few minutes Friday to celebrate the 231st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. On this day, Marines traditionally say “happy birthday” to one another as if each was celebrating his or her birthday.
The normal birthday rituals were performed. The Marines heard greetings written by the late Gen. John A. Lejeune, the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as Gen. Michael W. Hagee, the current commandant.
The group’s commander, Col. David M. Richtsmeier, also read a birthday message, outlining his goals for the year ahead.
“Our mission is clear,” Richtsmeier said. “Help the Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. Hunt down the terrorists to remove the source of the violence and instability in this region, and lay the foundation of peace our nation.”
Then came the traditional cake-cutting, with the oldest Marine present, 48-year-old Col. James Sheahan, the group’s chief of staff, and the youngest Marine, 18-year-old Lance Cpl. Carrie Davis of Chili, N.Y., getting the first two pieces.
The Marines have been in Anbar, home to cities such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Haditha, since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. For some of the younger Marines present, the ceremony gave an opportunity to think about why they enlisted.
Lance Cpl. Mary Carnes, 21, of Huntington, Ind., has two brothers in the Army who have deployed to Iraq, and that helped her make her decision to enlist. She said she could have gone to college or gotten married.
“I wanted a challenge,” Carnes said. “I wanted to do something that everybody would appreciate.”