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II Marine Expeditionary Force

Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, NC
Bring on the beef: Combat Logistics Battalion 24 lets loose

By Cpl. Paul Peterson | | January 30, 2013

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A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group recoils in laughter after a pizza is delivered to his table during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. No outside food is allowed during Marine Corps mess nights, and the servicemembers were forced to pay a tax, which normally includes singing a song, telling a joke, or completing some other penalty issued by the president of the mess.

A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group recoils in laughter after a pizza is delivered to his table during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. No outside food is allowed during Marine Corps mess nights, and the servicemembers were forced to pay a tax, which normally includes singing a song, telling a joke, or completing some other penalty issued by the president of the mess. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group proposes a toast to the Marines of the past during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The mess night served as a chance for the Marines and sailors to bond and celebrate their heritage after the battalion’s nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which returned to Camp Lejeune December 2012.

A Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group proposes a toast to the Marines of the past during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The mess night served as a chance for the Marines and sailors to bond and celebrate their heritage after the battalion’s nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which returned to Camp Lejeune December 2012. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Guests at Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s mess night applaud as a plate of hot-sauce-soaked beef is presented to the battalion’s commanding officer during a ceremony held aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The unit held the mess night to celebrate the successful completion of its nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which returned to Camp Lejeune December 2012.

Guests at Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s mess night applaud as a plate of hot-sauce-soaked beef is presented to the battalion’s commanding officer during a ceremony held aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The unit held the mess night to celebrate the successful completion of its nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which returned to Camp Lejeune December 2012. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Col. Frank L. Donovan, the commanding officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, holds a plaque presented to him by the Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group during the battalion’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Donovan congratulated the servicemembers on their performance while serving with the 24th MEU and thanked them for the unique logistical support the battalion provided during the unit’s recent deployment.

Col. Frank L. Donovan, the commanding officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, holds a plaque presented to him by the Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group during the battalion’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Donovan congratulated the servicemembers on their performance while serving with the 24th MEU and thanked them for the unique logistical support the battalion provided during the unit’s recent deployment. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Col. Frank L. Donovan, the commanding officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, addresses the Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group during the battalion’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Donovan congratulated the servicemembers for their efforts during the nine-month deployment and thanked their families and friends for their support.

Col. Frank L. Donovan, the commanding officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, addresses the Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group during the battalion’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Donovan congratulated the servicemembers for their efforts during the nine-month deployment and thanked their families and friends for their support. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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A Marine hoists a glass of wine to toast the servicemembers who came before him during Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The event combined the formalities of a fine dinner with a host of comical rules designed to build bonds between the servicemembers in attendance and celebrate the unit’s recent return from deployment.

A Marine hoists a glass of wine to toast the servicemembers who came before him during Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The event combined the formalities of a fine dinner with a host of comical rules designed to build bonds between the servicemembers in attendance and celebrate the unit’s recent return from deployment. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, bites into a piece of beef covered in hot sauce during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Bradley fought through the burning sensation of a sauce fittingly named “The Reaper” before declaring the meat ready for the guests in attendance.

Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, bites into a piece of beef covered in hot sauce during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Bradley fought through the burning sensation of a sauce fittingly named “The Reaper” before declaring the meat ready for the guests in attendance. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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The chief steward for Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s mess night pushes a cart with the first plate of beef to Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the battalion’s commander, during a ceremony held aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The chief steward danced his way through the aisles before dousing the meat in hot sauce and offering it to Bradley.

The chief steward for Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s mess night pushes a cart with the first plate of beef to Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the battalion’s commander, during a ceremony held aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The chief steward danced his way through the aisles before dousing the meat in hot sauce and offering it to Bradley. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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The first plate of beef is paraded out to Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Bradley served as the president of the mess and was responsible for approving the meat for the meal after it was doused in a hot sauce known as “The Reaper”.

The first plate of beef is paraded out to Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Bradley served as the president of the mess and was responsible for approving the meat for the meal after it was doused in a hot sauce known as “The Reaper”. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, grimaces before bites into a piece of beef covered in hot sauce during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Bradley fought through the burning sensation of a sauce fittingly named The Reaper before declaring the meat ready for the guests in attendance.

Lt. Col. Daniel J. Bradley, the commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, grimaces before bites into a piece of beef covered in hot sauce during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. Bradley fought through the burning sensation of a sauce fittingly named The Reaper before declaring the meat ready for the guests in attendance. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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A line of dishes and drinks waits for the Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The unit held the event to celebrate the completion of its nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and to give thanks to their supporters who helped them complete their mission.

A line of dishes and drinks waits for the Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group during the unit’s mess night aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The unit held the event to celebrate the completion of its nine-month deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and to give thanks to their supporters who helped them complete their mission. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


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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.


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