View Full Version : Marine Corps throws 227th birthday bash

11-09-02, 10:44 AM
By Mark Oliva, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, November 10, 2002

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marine Lance Cpl. Charles Boyer spent Friday morning polishing his rifle.

But he’s never had to make brass shine on his M-16. On Friday, his standard issue was a reproduction of a Marine’s musket from 1775, the birth year of the Corps.

“I volunteered for this,” Boyer said. “It’s motivational.”

That’s not a term normally linked with cleaning weapons, but Boyer’s duties on Friday morning weren’t routine, either.

He and about two dozen other Marines dressed in uniforms from years past, representing battles and looks from different eras. It was part of the Marines’ 227th birthday celebration on Okinawa.

“I wanted to be the Revolutionary War Marine,” Boyer said. “That’s the beginning of it all for Marines. That’s where the heritage started.”

Boyer’s heavy-wool green coat and wood-and-brass musket fit him well.

He led Friday’s uniform parade before the traditional cake-cutting in front of grandstands packed with Marines decked out in the present-day uniform: blue trousers and khaki shirts topped by the distinctive round-white barracks cover.

“I wanted to do this to support everything the Corps stands for,” Boyer said. “The Marine Corps birthday only happens once a year, and this is the first one I get to celebrate.”

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Felix Coleman volunteered to dress out for the parade, too.

Originally, he wanted to put on the desert-camouflaged uniform he wore during the Gulf War, but he settled for a Marine aviator’s flight suit from World War II.

“That’s when minorities started to come into play in the military, so I jumped at the role,” said Coleman, an African-American Marine. “I love to do this. It’s about the esprit de corps. That’s what I came in for.

“It’s a chance for us to honor those Marines who came before us. Whether it’s 1775 or 2002, that’s the history of our Corps, and I wanted to be part of the celebration.”

Marine Cpl. Bryan Barnett also chose an aviator’s uniform, but one from the dawn of military flight. He wore the dark-brown leather jacket of biplane pilots from 1918 during World War I.

“Honestly, I wanted to be in this uniform because of the leather jacket,” Barnett said.

Uniform aside, Barnett said the chance to represent Marines who fought and built the service’s mystique was important.

“Seriously, it’s important for us as Marines to realize where we came from and what Marines have done in the past,” he said. “Because of them, that’s who we are. They made Marines special.”



Mark Oliva / Stars and Stripes

Marines on Camp Foster, Okinawa, re-enact the flag raising over Iwo Jima during the 227th birthday celebration on Okinawa. Marines across the world are celebrating the Nov. 10, 1775 birthday with unit formation, cake cuttings and readings of birthday messages. The birthday celebration is a time-honored tradition among Marines and a time to pause to honor the legacy of those Marines past.