PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 10, 2020) --
PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 10, 2020) – Every fall, Marines around the world prepare for the annual Marine Corps birthday ball celebration to honor the birth of the Corps. It is a time where units come together with their loved ones and celebrate the birthday at a venue with a ceremony, dinner and dance.
This year is different from the years before as we face a global pandemic and are unable to celebrate with a birthday ball due to restrictions for COVID mitigation. However, with proper safety measures, Marines at home and deployed around the globe are able to come together and honor the traditions of the Marine Corps.
While out at sea in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Marines and Sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group celebrated the 245th Marine Corps birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony aboard all three ships of the Makin Island ARG.
On Nov. 3, 2020, Marines and Sailors gathered in the hangar bay of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) for a birthday ceremony with guest of honor, Brig. Gen. Thomas B. Savage, I Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commanding general.
For the entrance of the traditional Marine Corps birthday cake, Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman served as the cake escorts. The incorporation of a hospital corpsman into the ceremony portrays the service that corpsmen provide to Marine Corps units, and demonstrates Navy-Marine Corps integration.
“Being part of the ceremony, I felt like the Marines saw me as one of their own,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Ember R. Zimmerman with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th MEU. “It’s really great to see how much pride the Marines have in their history and how much they love to be Marines. The Marines really take pride in (the ceremony), and put everything they have into it, and it’s an amazing experience, especially to be a part of it.”
During the cake-cutting ceremony, it is tradition for the first piece of cake to be presented to the guest of honor, followed by the next piece of cake presented to the oldest Marine in attendance, as a sign of honor and respect according to experience and seniority. The oldest Marine then passes the piece of cake to the youngest Marine, symbolizing the passing of wisdom, knowledge and experience, as well as trust and confidence in those who carry on the Marine Corps traditions in the future.
Lance Cpl. Ahmad Hassan, the youngest Marine present, at 19 years old, said this was his first time celebrating the Marine Corps birthday.
“I’ve been in the Marine Corps a little over a year now,” said Hassan, a machine gunner with Charlie Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU. “It was a great honor to be part of the ceremony, and it made me feel special.”
On Nov. 10, 2020, Marines and Sailors of the 15th MEU embarked aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), both with the Makin Island ARG, celebrated the Marine Corps birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony as well as a birthday meal.
“It is a great opportunity to share our customs and traditions with the Navy, especially having to live in such close quarters with each other,” said Cpl. Kendall Hopson, an aviation ordnance technician with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), 15th MEU, embarked aboard USS San Diego. “I feel it is a way for (Sailors) to understand our way of life more by seeing how we celebrate our heritage. The ‘A’ in EGA (eagle, globe and anchor) stands for anchor and that comes from our naval traditions.”
For the past month, 15th MEU Marines and Sailors have been embarked aboard USS Makin Island, USS Somerset and USS San Diego.
“There is perhaps no more appropriate way to celebrate our birthday than embarked aboard ships of war – among our Navy teammates,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU commanding officer. “We honor the sacrifice of our forefathers through our own service – and that is why we come together today to celebrate our heritage as a warfighting organization.”