News: MCIPAC, III MEF celebrates birthday with uniform pageant
Story by Lance Cpl. Donald Peterson
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - Marine Corps Installations Pacific and III Marine Expeditionary Force hosted a birthday pageant and ceremony Nov. 8 at the parade field on Camp Foster to celebrate the Marine Corps’ 238th birthday.
The event featured a uniform display, cake-cutting ceremony, music from the III MEF Band and remarks from the guest of honor, Lt. Gen. John Wissler, the III MEF commanding general.
Students of Kubasaki High School’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and service members with III MEF and MCIPAC displayed uniforms from different eras of Marine Corps history as the narrator highlighted the Marine Corps’ actions during those times.
Every major period of Marine Corps history, was showcased during the pageant, from the Revolutionary War era through present-day Marines, according to Capt. John W. McJunkin V, an event attendee and a contracting officer with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, MCIPAC.
“This pageant exemplified 238 years of history,” said McJunkin. “On Nov. 10, 1775, a corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousands of men and women have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it’s fitting that we should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glory of its long and illustrious history.”
After the uniform display, Wissler read a letter detailing the birthday celebrated by Marines fighting on the front lines of the Battle of Fallujah Nov. 10, 2004, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a poem to help illustrate the importance of the Marine Corps birthday not as just a ceremony but as a celebration between fellow Marines.
“We live by our motto of ‘Semper Fidelis,’ which means ‘always faithful,’ and we continue to strive to better ourselves,” said Wissler. “This pageant helps showcase our past and all the things we have been through to better ourselves and get to where we are today.”
Following the completion of Wissler’s speech, Marines marched a traditional cake onto the parade field to celebrate the birth of the Marine Corps, a custom performed at Marine Corps birthday celebrations worldwide.
“This is the first Marine Corps Birthday cake-cutting ceremony that I’ve been able to participate in,” said Pfc. Anayna K. Ellington, a postal clerk with Headquarters and Service Bn. “It was a great experience and a good way to celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday.”
Col. Katherine J. Estes, the Headquarters and Service Bn. commander, cut the cake and presented the first piece to Wissler. Estes then passed a second piece to the oldest Marine present, Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael A. Scott, the MCB Butler provost sergeant. Scott subsequently passed the piece to the youngest Marine present, Ellington.
“To be the youngest Marine present at the event and actually being a part of a traditional Marine Corps experience was fantastic,” said Ellington. “The passing of the cake from the oldest to the youngest shows how much traditions are important and how the Marine Corps is like a family, that’s continuing to grow.”
The event concluded with Wissler commemorating the efforts of participants in the pageant and all Marines.
“I am humbled to wear this uniform and to be a part of this team we call the Marine Corps,” said Wissler. “This pageant has really displayed our history well, and it’s a great honor to be able to see such a fantastic sight from the JROTC cadets. This really displays ‘esprit de corps’ and how we live by our motto ‘Semper Fidelis’.”