CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq --
Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 27 (Forward) woke up with the Iraqi sun aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, knowing that the day, Nov. 10, marked 234 years of the Marine Corps’ existence.
The regiment’s junior Marines formed up outside the base’s replica of Tun Tavern, the original birthplace of the Marine Corps, to march to the dining facility aboard base to enjoy a special meal to commemorate the event.
The rest of the day was filled with the same camaraderie. Marines greeted each other with a proud “happy birthday Marine,” as they passed one another around the base.
A cake-cutting ceremony was also held later in the day where Col. Vincent A. Coglianese, the CLR-27 (Fwd) commanding officer, stood before the regiment to deliver a motivational speech.
“This is a special day for all Marines,” he began. “For some of you, this will be one of many birthday celebrations you will attend throughout your careers.”
Coglianese continued, reminding the Marines of the past and present heroes, such as the old Corps’ Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly, who received two Medals of Honor throughout his noteworthy career, and a present generation hero, Cpl. Jason Dunham, a rifle squad leader with Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, who in 2004 in Karabilah, Iraq gave his own life when he threw himself on top of a grenade to save the lives of at least two of his fellow comrades.
“The Marine Corps birthday celebration is a time [when] we remember our lineage and reflect on how we as Marines are living up to the accomplishments of those who went before us,” Coglianese said.
Similar birthday ceremonies are held around the world wherever Marines are stationed or deployed. However, this ceremony meant something more to the deployed Marines of CLR-27 (Fwd).
“Having a birthday reminds us that no matter where we are in the world and no matter the situation, that we are the elite,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Vian, an electric-optical ordinance repairman with CLR-27 (Fwd). “No other branch of service can stand next to us and be as proud or as honored as the Marines. I am and always will be proud to be a United States Marine.”
A motivational video was played along with a message from the Corps’ commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent. It highlighted the generations of Marines and the similarities that remain in the level of valor that the service upholds.
The commandant’s video message ended with a scene at a replica of Tun Tavern, where the two most senior leaders, along with past and present Marines, raised their glasses for a toast.
“Marines, family members and friends of the Corps, we ask that wherever you are celebrating tonight, that you raise your glass or your canteen cup and join us in a toast,” Conway said.
“To the great nation that we defend, a nation founded on hope and freedom for all,” Kent finished.
The ceremony concluded with the playing of “Anchors Away” and “The Marines Hymn” where the Marines and sailors, in both the ceremony and audience, proudly stood at the position of attention soaking up the familiar notes.
Following the ceremony the Marines gathered to enjoy refreshments and camaraderie.
“This will be a memorable birthday for us as an organization and our unit,” Coglianese said. “It will probably be the last time a Marine regiment celebrates our Corps’ birthday while serving forward-deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and like the Commandant has said before, ‘We are leaving under a pennant of victory.
“It is an honor for our regiment to be afforded the opportunity to close out the final chapter of the Marine Corps’ contributions to OIF,” he continued. “We walk in the footsteps of many heroes, both past and present.”