CAMP LEJEUNE, NC, UNITED STATES
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - "Chief steward, bring on the beef!" bellowed a voice from within the dining hall.
A horde of Marines and sailors echoed the call, "Beef . Beef . Beef," and the chief steward paraded a single plate of meat out to the head table. Protective glasses shielded his eyes as he drenched the plate in a hot sauce dauntingly named "The Reaper".
Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, hesitated.
"You know this night is all about tradition," said Bradley, his face wincing from the odor of the sauce. "I find I'm tempted to change tradition a little bit and delegate this responsibility to someone else."
The crowd overwhelmingly rejected the proposal with a chorus of laughter.
“Whatever you do, do not touch any part of your face,” cautioned the chief steward.
The commander braved the first, hot-sauce-soaked bite.
“I find this beef fit for human consumption,” Bradley managed to choke out as the heat slowly engulfed his taste buds, and he ordered the meal to commence.
It was a long time coming for the Marines and sailors of CLB-24. After a nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the battalion’s personnel gathered for a traditional, rowdy Marine Corps mess night at the Marston Pavilion here, Jan. 25.
They donned their dress uniforms and engaged in a night of fine, if not disorderly, dining meant to bond the servicemembers in a splurge of food, drinks and general revelry.
“While we missed our Marine Corps [Birthday] Ball celebration on our deployment, I think this is a fine way to replace it, to go back to the traditions of the Marine Corps,” said Bradley. “[These are] old traditions, which many of you are probably experiencing for the first time.”
After dinner, the servicemembers raised their glasses to toast the president and the generations of Marines and sailors who came before them. It was a night to remember sacrifices, renew the bonds that saw them through months at sea, and lost time with family and friends.
The unit’s deployment took it from the coast of Greece to the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa. They completed training operations in the rugged mountains and sands of Jordan, and stood ready to respond to crises throughout the region.
“Usually when I see you, you’re dirty and covered in grease and grime,” said Col. Frank L. Donovan, the commanding officer of the 24th MEU. “What’s unique about you is you bring something that really nobody else can do.”
Donovan congratulated the battalion for completing a multitude of missions in adverse environments. The servicemembers overcame communication challenges, supported logistical operations far from traditional military installations, and demonstrated the effectiveness of the Marine Corps’ operational support system.
The servicemembers also took a moment to recognize their families and the network of support personnel who helped them along the way.
“We were out there doing what we were trained to do day-in and day-out, but you all had to keep things going back here through some very turbulent times,” said Bradley, a native of St. Louis. “What you all did to keep us going while we were gone is probably the most important thing that could have happened to this battalion.”
Every Marine and sailor rose and gave their loved ones a standing ovation for the efforts they gave to sustain the unit’s mission.
“You’re a special breed of Marines and sailors,” said Donovan as he closed his remarks. “I applaud you.”
He called their performance a testament to the Marine Corps’ logistical model. It allowed the 24th MEU to complete repair, resupply and communication tasks on short notice and in locations no one else could reach.
||CAMP LEJEUNE, NC, US
This work, Bring on the beef: Combat Logistics Battalion 24 lets loose, by Sgt Paul Peterson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.