Saturday, November 29, 2008

Marines celebrate 233rd Marine Corps Birthday in Afghanistan

Story by Lance Cpl. Monty Burton

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines and sailors from Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 3rd Marine Regiment and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit celebrated the 233rd Marine Corps birthday at Kandahar Air Field in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Nov. 10.

The Marines, hundreds of which deployed to the region Nov. 5, are part of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Afghanistan.

Although the Marines were located in a combat zone and couldn’t attend the Marine Corps birthday ball, the birthday traditions here remained the same.

On the dry, dusty air field, the ceremony began with a troop formation and reading of the birthday message of the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway.

“Your actions, in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the globe, are the core of why America loves her Marines,” the message read.

Conway’s message was followed by that of the 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune, which is customary at Marine Corps Birthday celebrations.

The ceremony concluded with the traditional cake cutting and recognition of the oldest and youngest Marines present.
Colonel Gary P. Shaw, 52, the oldest Marine, and Lance Cpl. Francisco Martinez, 19, the youngest Marine, were presented the first pieces of the birthday cake.

Shaw, a liaison officer to the KAF Command, said it was an honor to be recognized as the oldest Marine and celebrate the birthday while deployed.

“I liked it. It was definitely the most memorable birthday I have celebrated,” he said. “I’ve spent birthdays deployed but never to a combat zone, so it was definitely memorable.”

Lance Corporal Jerick Austria, an administrative clerk with SPMAGTF-A, said he wouldn’t want to celebrate the birthday anywhere else.

“I would much rather be here than at the ball,” he said. “Marines are trained to be deployed, so us celebrating the birthday here is very meaningful.”
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