USS PELELIU – Marines around the world, from forward operating bases in Afghanistan to garrison units in the United States, took time to honor the history and legacy of their service in celebration of the 237th birthday of their illustrious corps, Nov. 10.
Despite being deployed to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) did not let the important date go by unnoticed. More than 1,200 Marines and sailors took part in a traditional cake cutting ceremony in Peleliu’s hangar bay.
The ceremony began with an invocation by Lt. Cmdr. David Dinkins, 15th MEU chaplain, and a memoriam to fallen comrades, which was followed by entry of the sword detail and guest speaker Col. Scott D. Campbell, 15th MEU commanding officer.
“When I think about what it means to be a Marine, I realize that more often than not we reflect on our history,” said Campbell. “The reputation we enjoy as Marines has us remember battles like Peleliu, Belleau Wood and the Chosin Reservoir. The truth is, our history is often more current than that. Many of the Marines that are here in formation with us today have written some of that,” added Campbell.
As it is customary at Marine Corps birthday celebrations world-wide, the cake was cut and the first piece was given to the commanding officer. The second piece cut was given to the oldest Marine present, Lt. Col. William Wischmeyer, 15th MEU operations officer, who took a bite and passed it to the youngest Marine present, Pvt. Duran Arley, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 15th MEU. The passing of the cake from the oldest Marine to the youngest Marine symbolizes the passing of history and traditions to the next generation.
To conclude the ceremony, all Marines and sailors in attendance joined together and sang the Marines’ Hymn.
“There’s only one corps of Marines that can do what we do around the planet. Whether it’s the mountains of Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq, it doesn’t matter. When we come from the sea, we [fight] and win. That’s our history, that’s what we do. Happy birthday Marines, Semper Fidelis,” said Campbell.
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve and crisis response force throughout U.S. Central Command and the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.