MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- In November, most people think of Thanksgiving, food and the beginning of the holiday season. However, for Marines, November doesn’t just signify Thanksgiving, it also represents the Marine Corps Birthday.
In this time, Marines from all over the world take the time to honor those who have come before and paved the way.
Each squadron has its own way of paying tribute to the Marine Corps, and it is tradition for the station’s Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron to perform a pageant and cake-cutting ceremony.
Station Marines, sailors, civilians and special guests gathered at the parade deck Nov. 9 to celebrate the Corps’ 230th birthday and rich tradition that dates back to 1775.
During the pageant and cake-cutting ceremony, Marines were reminded of the forming of the Corps, Nov. 10 1775 by an act of the Continental Congress. In addition, Marines learned how the Corps as we know it, was formed July 11, 1798 by an act of Congress before the beginning of a war with France.
The ceremony illustrates to spectators the different uniforms that Marines have worn in the past, from the Continental Marines and Barbary Pirates to the modern day digital utilities and service alphas. The display of uniforms included a narration about the accomplishments made during each era.
This year, the pageant and cake-cutting ceremony went through a minor change. The pageant paid tribute to the Marines currently fighting overseas.
Marines first began the war on terrorism after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Operation Enduring Freedom began Oct. 7, 2001, as a response to the terrorist attacks, with the initial objectives being to destroy terrorist training camps, capture Al Qaeda leaders and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
March 20, 2003, marked the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with Marines from 1st Marine Expeditionary Force crossing the Kuwait border into Southern Iraq in the first push toward Baghdad.
Since OEF and OIF, 500 Marines have made the ultimate sacrifice and 4,965 have been wounded in action.
The station unfortunately recently lost one of its leaders as a result of action in Iraq. Master Sgt. Kenneth E. Hunt passed away Oct. 12, 2005, from wounds he received in Iraq while serving with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371. His ultimate sacrifice was also recognized and appreciated.
Following the display of various Marine Corps uniforms, Marines, sailors and civilians witnessed a Search and Rescue UH-1N Huey helicopter hover 100 feet in the air as Petty Officer 3rd Class Brendon Sandburg, Search and Rescue corpsman, rappelled down to deliver to the station commanding officer the ceremonial sword used to cut the cake.
However, before cutting the cake, Col. Ben Hancock, station commanding officer, informed the crowd of how the cake-cutting ceremony is used as a way to pass on the traditions and esprit de corps of Marines from one generation to the next so that the Corps’ history will carry on. The pieces of cake presented to the oldest and youngest Marines present symbolizes the continuing thread of the Marine Corps, linking past with the present.