ABOARD USS KEARSARGE --
Crisp clouds stretched to the horizon of the red, pink and blue morning sky as the dark waters remained calm beneath them. Before the sun honored the Earth with another day, Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) were churning out laps on the flight deck of USS Kearsarge in honor of the Marine Corps’ 232nd birthday.
During the week preceding the Marine Corps’ birthday, Nov. 4-10, 22nd MEU (SOC) Marines took part in a 232-lap salute to their Corps’ proud heritage and history. The run began with the loud and motivated formation of Corporal’s Course, class 08-02, and concluded with individual laps by the MEU’s Sergeant Major, the youngest Marine aboard ship, and the MEU’s Commanding Officer.
Marines from every Major Subordinate Element (MSE) joined in, and Cpl. Anthony M. Isquierdo, of Holland, Mich., is one participant who is happy he did. Even though he said it was tough running against the substantial wind atop the floating airstrip, it was still fun.
“It was something new that I haven’t seen done before,” said Isquierdo, a Combat Logistics Battalion 22 combat engineer. “We had representatives from each platoon standing along the side, who cheered us on as we ran yelling, ‘ooh rah, Marine Corps,’ and ‘happy birthday!’ It definitely brought everybody together.”
The festivities continued in Marine Corps’ style with a formation of roughly 1,200 rough-and-ready Leathernecks for the reading of Gen. John A. Lejeune’s Birthday Message and the traditional cake cutting ceremony.
During the cake cutting ceremony, a unit’s oldest Marine passes its youngest the first piece of cake symbolizing the passing forward of heritage, history, and traditions.
The MEU’s youngest Marine was Lance Cpl. Garrett W. Taylor of Lakeland, Fla., and even though he typically does his best to elude extra attention, he said he definitely experienced a unique perspective of the event.
“I didn’t want to do it at first, because I didn’t want to be up in front of that many people, but it turned out to be pretty cool,” said Taylor, a machine gunner with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (BLT 3/8). “It was pretty interesting having a colonel pass me, a lance corporal, a piece of cake.”
The weeklong festivities concluded in a surprising end. As Lance Cpl. Corey Walsh explained, he would definitely like to see more Marine Corps’ birthday dinners like this in his future.
“We had the first sergeants, sergeants major, and staff sergeants serving us, cleaning up, and washing dishes,” said Walsh, a machine gunner with Weapons Company, as he feasted on steak, lobster and mashed potatoes. “The atmosphere is different; it’s a lot happier than usual. I could get used to it.”
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU (SOC) are currently deployed to Central Command’s area of responsibility as the theater reserve force. The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Ground Combat Element, BLT 3/8; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, CLB-22; and its Command Element. For more information, visit the unit’s Web site at www.22meu.usmc.mil.