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Honoring Customs, Traditions, and Heroes: MCAS Yuma Holds 241st Birthday Ceremony

By Story by Lance Cpl. Christian Cachola | Marine Corps Air Station Yuma | November 10, 2016

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (November 10, 2016) – A roar of chatter fills the air as Marines, Sailors, veterans and distinguished guests await the start of the celebration. A voice echoes across the green grass of the MCAS Yuma parade field, “Ladies and gentlemen, the ceremony will begin in five minutes, we ask that you silence all cellular devices,” signaling the beginning of the ceremony.

For 240 years, Marines around the world have celebrated November 10 as the birth of the Marine Corps. In 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved “that Two Battalions of Marines be raised” during the Revolutionary War. Today marks the 241st anniversary of that decree.

“The word ‘Marine’ spans time, places, people, personalities and exploits,” declared Cpl. Summer Romero, the narrator for the ceremony and a combat photographer with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “This morning we gather to recall our past history, pay homage to past generations of Marines and to honor all Marines who have served in every clime and place.”

It is this legacy of war-fighting that emerges when the first Marine in the uniform pageant, clad in an iconic green coat of the Continental Marines of 1775, steps front and center.

The green coats with high leather collars distinguished the Marines from the blue of the Continental Army and Navy, and the red of the British. These same uniforms would be seen over the Atlantic and on New Providence, Bahamas, which was the first amphibious landing in the history of the United States.

The Continental Marine makes way for a pair of more recognizable uniforms. The green service uniform was adopted in 1912 to prevent troops from being mistaken as Germans during World War I. Marines of the time wore this uniform in the vicious fighting at the Battles of Soissons, Mont Blanc, Argonne Forrest and Belleau Wood. It was the first time that U.S. service members wore distinct combat and non-combat uniforms. Today, Marines wear it as the service “A” uniform, for official matters.

The uniform pageant continued into the modern age, from the tri-color “cammies” of the 90’s to the digital “MARPAT” woodland and desert uniforms that Marines wear today. Since its issue in 2004, Marines have used MARPAT camouflage to better conceal the warrior within the natural surroundings.

At last, a male and a female Marine march down the field in the iconic Dress Blue uniform. Since its inception in 1798, the uniform continues to pay tribute to the history of the Corps by keeping the high collar on the coat, the 13 buttons representing the original 13 colonies and the blood stripe on the trousers.

When each era of Marine Corps history, from the Revolutionary War in 1776 to modern day, is showcased during the pageant, Romero gives the significance of the actions of the men and women who have filled the Corps’ ranks in the uniform of that time period, for more than two centuries.

To conclude the pageant, the Marines in various historic uniforms step forward, they declare in unison, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are the United States Marine Corps and we honor those who have passed before us.” The Marines around them were reminded that no matter the time or place, Marines all over the globe will come together to celebrate the day.

“[This ceremony] brings back the values of why we serve and what we serve for,” stated Pfc. Anthony Thomas Reyes, a 19-year-old administrative specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and native of Oneida, New York. “It’s just great to see our past and it’s awesome to look forward to the future of what’s to come for the Marine Corps.”

After the uniform pageant concluded, the slow Marine’s hymn starts to play. Four Marines carefully escort the birthday cake, covered in white frosting, to the center of the field. The Headquarters and Headquarters Station adjutant, Lt. Daryl Scales, stood in front of the cake and read aloud the 13th Commandant’s birthday message to remind the crowd of the rich heritage of the Marine Corps.

Following the 13th Commandant’s birthday message, Cpl. Romero read a message from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert B. Neller.

A loud buzzing emanates in the distance. Attendees look over-head to see a HH-1N “Huey” helicopter fly above the parade field and circle back around.

The Huey hovers over the far end of the parade field as a Navy Corpsman with Search and Rescue rappels 100 feet to deliver the ceremonial non-commissioned officer sword to Col. Ricardo Martinez, the station commanding officer.

The Corpsman marches to Col. Martinez and delivers the sword. Col. Martinez then used the sword to cut out a piece cake. He presents Master Gunnery Sgt. William Pine, a 53-year-old provost sergeant with the station Provost Marshal Office and San Diego native, with the first piece of cake and the second piece to Pfc. Reyes.

It’s an honor to be a part of this ceremony, stated Pine. This ceremony represents the passing of traditions from the old to the new.

“It is the honor, courage and commitment of those who have preceded us, who have set the standards and made the Corps the proud fighting organization it has been since its inception in 1775,” said Romero as the ceremony ended. “We have faith in our God, love for our country, dedication to our Corps, belief in ourselves and a heritage that sets us apart from any other.”

As the Marine Corps remains, it will continue to honor its illustrious legacy and the Marines of the past that have made the Corps what it is today. Cake-cutting ceremonies and uniform pageants are a tradition that allow Marines, young and old, to show gratitude for those who came before them.
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