AR RAMADI, Iraq – -- Gathered together in their respective outposts to commemorate the victories of those who came before them, the Marines celebrated one of their oldest traditions.
The Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, celebrated the Marine Corps’ 231st birthday with cake-cutting ceremonies in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Nov. 10.
Even with the demanding schedule of an infantry battalion in a combat zone, the Marines were able to make time to celebrate the rich history of the Corps.
“Recognizing and continuing our traditions is a big part of being a Marine,” said Cpl. Brandon M. Deter, 21-year-old watch chief for the battalion’s command operations center.
Each ceremony began with the reading of messages from the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John A. Lejeune, and the 33rd commandant, Gen. Michael W. Hagee.
The messages recounted the accomplishments of the Marines of the past, and praised the Marines of today for continued excellence as the country’s premiere fighting force.
Following the readings, the cakes were cut, with the first piece going to the oldest Marine and the second piece given to the youngest.
The presentation of the first pieces of the cake signifies the passing of tradition to the newest generation of Marines.
Holding the ceremonies on firm bases in the city, the Marines quickly recognized the historical significance of their efforts.
“In the future, Marines will celebrate what we’ve done in Ramadi, just as we celebrate what our brothers did on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Luis H. Hernandez, 48-year-old operations chief for the battalion.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Marines were given time to partake of their cake and enjoy the company of their fellow Marines.
The short time away from their everyday stresses came as a welcome relief to the warriors of the battalion.
“It was nice to have a break, get together with the company and have some fun,” said Cpl. Keith Lagesse, a 20-year-old team leader for Company C, 1/6.
The camaraderie of the Marines in attendance carried many of the celebrations late into the night.
The unique atmosphere and pride of the Marines in the celebration left a lasting impression on many, said Lagesse, a native of Florence, Ken.
“This was great; it will be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said Deter, a native of Rifle, Colo.