View Full Version : Marines celebrating their 231st birthday

11-06-06, 08:05 PM
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Tuesday, November 7, 2006

LANDSTUHL, Germany — Happy birthday, “Devil Dogs.”

Marines — along with soldiers, sailors and airmen — gathered Monday afternoon in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Heaton Auditorium to celebrate the 231st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. The official birthday takes place Friday, harking back to the creation of the Marine Corps on that day in 1775.

Monday’s event was marked by the ceremonial cake-cutting in which one of the first pieces of cake was presented to the oldest Marine attending and then to the youngest Marine. The transfer symbolizes the passing of Marine Corps traditions and responsibilities from one generation of Marines to the next.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Lawson, 37, passed the piece of cake to Pfc. Christina Burnett, 19. The two Marines, who were serving in Iraq, were at Land- stuhl for medical treatment.

On the Marine Corps’ birthday, Marines say “happy birthday” to each other as if each Marine is celebrating his or her birthday.

“We’re all brothers in arms,” Lawson said. “We all share something special with each other. We just make it special for each other, one at a time.”

Maj. Gen. Andrew Davis, deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe, attended the event.

“Whether you are walking patrol in Fallujah or Haditha and dodging high-speed metal, or you are patching together our wounded warriors here at Landstuhl, or you are volunteers helping the healing process, or are our families — without whom we couldn’t do any of this — you are having a huge, huge impact in that historic moment when we’re in this struggle of good versus evil,” Davis said. “I also believe in my heart of hearts that it won’t be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight, but we absolutely will prevail.”


11-06-06, 08:29 PM
Monday, November 6, 2006
Meredith veterans mark Marine Corps anniversary

Staff Writer

MEREDITH — It has been 231 years since a group of rebels met in Philadelphia's Tun Tavern to form a band of continental marines that would become the basis of today's U.S. Marine Corps.

While the times have changed and the manner of warfare has evolved, the proud group that makes up the branch continues to show the same pride exhibited by those who would help win the country its independence.

On Saturday dozens of Marines from across the Granite State gathered at Hart's Turkey Farm to celebrate the anniversary of the corp's founding at the "231st Birthday Ball" — an affair that saw young and old coming together to rekindle friendships and share the camaraderie of a group known by their trademark slogan of Semper Fidelis, meaning "always faithful".

The sound of "OOH-RAH's" bellied out of several Marine Corps. veterans as Retired Col. Normand Noel of Meredith paid tribute to the men whose blood and sweat helped win many a battle.

Saturday's birthday bash marked the eighth of its kind and saw most veterans dressing in their uniforms for an event that honored all branches of the military.

"It all started here eight years ago with five guys," recalled Noel, adding that the men decided to make what was a chance meeting a regular gathering.

And the event has certainly taken off from five and then 13 participants to Saturday's gathering, which featured more than 107 Marine Corps. veterans and other members of the military.

Noel and retired Sgt. Larry Downs helped lead a group through a number of ceremonial activities including the cutting of a birthday cake, which was handed out to some of the oldest and youngest attendees and those who served in Vietnam.

NH Marine Corp. League Commandant Frank Diekmann cut the cake with a sword, which is a tradition for the group that has been maintained each year.

However, Noel said the gathering is less about pomp and circumstance and more about Marines getting together to share stories and the love for a military branch that prides itself as being the best.

Noel said the Marine Corp. instills a sense of pride from the first time a recruit walks into boot camps and he noted that the feeling is never lost long after someone is retired.

"Being a Marine is a way of life. There are no former Marines ¿ there are live Marines and dead Marines," explained Noel.

Those attending the birthday ball ranged greatly in age from current members of the branch who remarked about the high level of technology that is currently used in war, to a handful of World War II veterans who recalled the grit that it took to overcome a regime bent on worldwide conquest.

Joseph Morin, 81, of Laconia was a Navy "Seabee" who was invited because of his engineering outfit's close work with the Marine Corps. during WWII in the Pacific Theater.

Morin joined the military in 1944 and said he was stationed in Hawaii, providing support in the building of airstrips to serve B-29s.

The soldier recalled spending time on Tinian Island helping to build airstrips on a small piece of land in the Pacific Ocean that would end up being the place where the atomic bomb was loaded onto a plane before being dropped in Japan.

Morin said he helped mow grass for airstrips and build them out of coral. He said his group would be called in by Marines after bombing raids would damage strips.

The Laconia resident said he was on his way to Japan for an invasion when he caught news that the bomb had been dropped and that the war had taken a drastically different course.

"We couldn't believe it ¿ at that time we didn't think we would be coming back for a while or at all," said Morin with a laugh.

Also attending the ball was Bob Selig of Bradford - a 74 year old retired Marine who served in both Korea and in Vietnam.

Selig was a "seagoing" Marine who served on the USS Pittsburgh and spent the better part of his time sailing all over the world.

The veteran wore a dress uniform that he admitted wasn't his original, but proudly remarked that it is the same size as the one he wore as a young soldier.

"I've been out for 32 years. I came out of boot camp at 160 pounds and right now I'm 165 pounds," said Selig with a smile.

While most of those attending the ball were older veterans, a handful of younger Marines were also honored for their service.

George and Bobby Mottram of Moultonborough were undoubtedly the biggest guys in the room and recently served in the War on Terror.

George Mottram, 34, of the 1st Battalion 25th Marines out of Londonderry spent time in the Philippines in 2003 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and said a lot has changed since some of the older veterans embarked on bloody battles.

He said the new process works more on the "push of a button" than brute force with technology having advanced to a point where war is waged with far less hand to hand combat.

Mottram said he loves the fraternity of the Marine Corps. and assured that he looks up to the older veterans for what they did for the country. He said that - in many ways - they are no different than himself besides their age.

"They are less lean and mean, but they are still Marines," said Mottram.

Geoff Cunningham Jr. can be reached at 524-3800 ext. 5931 or via e-mail at gcunninghamcitizen.com.