22nd MEU continues Marine Corps tradition with a twist

5 Nov 2011 | Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado

As the Marine Corps celebrates its 236th birthday, the typical Marine family is preparing uniforms, setting up child care, and wives are primping in their best evening gowns and jewelry.

This isn’t your typical Marine Corps ball.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, hosted a Deployed Spouses’ Ball at the Officers’ Club aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Nov. 5.

Though the 22nd MEU is currently afloat with the majority of the Marines embarked, it didn’t stop the families from upholding the Corps’ tradition of having an annual celebration in honor of its birthday - with a twist.

The unit’s family readiness officer was planning a spouses’ night out for the occasion, but these wives weren’t having any of that. They decided to go a more traditional route with some twists to have them more involved.

Spouses prepared essentials like the cake, and though they only had one day of practice, they went on to perform the ceremony as their Marines would.

Instead of giving the first pieces of cake to the oldest and youngest Marines, the spouses who were married the longest and shortest amount of time held the honor.

“The spouses didn’t have all the time in the world to prepare, but they pulled the event together perfectly,” said Sgt. Nicholas K. Pape, the acting deputy FRO with Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263. “They did everything from putting in the time and effort for it to happen to making the cake themselves.”

The hard work paid off.  As the ceremony began, all the spouses entered the ball room and took their seats while guest of honor Maj. Gen. Angela Salinas, the director of Manpower Management Division, Quantico, Va., addressed the crowd.

“I was honored to be chosen as the guest speaker,” she said. “I wanted to stress how important the spouses are in the lives of their Marines. As I was speaking, I was looking up at their faces and making eye contact because I wanted them all to know my message was coming from the heart.”

When the speeches were over and the cake-cutting ceremony completed, the attending spouses made their way to another room for dinner and dancing.

The night went off without a hitch as wives raved about the time they had.

“Thank you for making our ball so wonderful! I had a great time,” said Stephanie Herring.

“It was a perfect night that wouldn't have been possible without all the hard work from all involved in putting the event together. Thank you,” said Brittany Hindsley.

With encouraging messages to the FRO and to those who made the ball possible, the 22nd MEU ended the night with the satisfaction knowing the spouses enjoyed gathering together for a Marine Corps tradition in their own way.

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit