MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Service members, families, veterans and Department of Defense employees gathered at the station parade field to celebrate the Marine Corps’ 240th birthday as part of the annual uniform pageant and cake-cutting ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Friday.
The pageant paid homage to the Corps’ legacy by chronologically parading the uniforms worn by Marines of the past.
“I’ve learned about all the uniforms,” said Lance Cpl. Recardo T. Whicker, an administrative specialist with Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron, based out of MCAS Yuma. “There are some uniforms I have never even seen and, from this day on, I will respect my uniform that much more.”
Col. Ricardo Martinez, the station commanding officer, spoke to those in attendance on the importance of time-honored traditions. The colonel thanked everyone in attendance and expressed his appreciation of the city of Yuma’s continued support of the station and service members.
“We get to celebrate the two centuries of the best military organization in the world and get to sense the pride of being a part of a true brotherhood,” said Martinez. “I’m going to miss this tradition the most when it’s time for me to go.”
In keeping with Marine Corps tradition, the ceremonial birthday cake was wheeled out by a detail of four Marines. The first slice of cake was shared between the oldest active duty Marine present, Master Gunnery Sgt. William S. Pine, the station provost sergeant, and handed to the youngest active duty Marine present, Lance Cpl. Emilio J. Martinez, a maintenance administrator with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. The annual custom signifies the passing of experience and knowledge from the old to the young of our Corps.
“I had no clue I was the youngest Marine. For me to be able to be a part of something this special for the station and the community is a very awesome experience,” said Lance Cpl. Martinez. “It helps show that the Marine Corps isn’t just something you come into and leave. It’s a brotherhood.”
Celebrating camaraderie and having a day to remember the esprit de corps of the past with the present is a hallmark of the Marine Corps.
“The ceremony isn’t just to learn about the history of the Corps or to carry on tradition,” said Whicker. “It’s also used to honor those who came before us and made the biggest sacrifice. These are the uniforms they wore and died in. Without them doing what they did then, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate or have this pageant today.”