CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Regardless of clime or place, whether it be in America, Japan, Afghanistan or on a ship at sea, Marines take a pause in their operational tempo every Nov. 10, to celebrate their beloved Corps birthday.
The Marines of Task Force Belleau Wood, headquartered at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, are no different.
Marines with TFBW, Regional Command Southwest and their coalition counterparts, came together on the birthday for a traditional ceremony that consisted of watching the Marine Corps birthday message, the reading of the traditional birthday message and a cake-cutting ceremony.
During the cake-cutting ceremony, Col. Michael Sweeney the commanding officer of TFBW and II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward), cut the first piece of cake for the ceremony’s guest of honor- the Marines who have given their lives in defense of the nation.
Sweeney then carried on with passing a piece of cake along to the oldest Marine present, Col. David Thompson, the RC(SW) science and technology officer. Once Thompson took a bite, he then passed the slice to the youngest Marine present, Lance Cpl. William Woolery, a motor transport operator with TFBW.
During the ceremony the hundreds of gathered Marines, coalition forces and civilians also held a moment of silence for the three TFBW Marines who have given the ultimate sacrifice since II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) took command of Helmand province last spring. After the moment of silence, the poem “Legacy” was read for the fallen.
“I think it’s an important event for us as an institution and I think it’s important for us to take time to recognize all those who have gone before us and particularly our heritage,” explained Sweeney. “The Marine Corps is unique, there is no question about that. But I think one of the things that make us unique is the fact that we remain focused on traditions and customs and courtesies. Regardless of if you’re on ship or deployed to Afghanistan it’s important that we reiterate the message of the Marine Corps on occasions like this, particularly our birthday.”
Once the ceremony ended, cake was handed out while everyone took a little bit more time out of their day to relax, eat a piece of cake and simply enjoy being a Marine.
“I found the ceremony motivating and important to all deployed Marines to remind us of our past and to concentrate on the future,” said Cpl. Lynn Beard, the linguist manager with RC(SW), and a native of Morrisonville, Ill. “As Marines working together we can and will accomplish any mission laid before us. It’s important for young and old Marines to come together and enjoy the important traditions upheld by the most fierce fighting force on earth, the United States Marines.”