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Col. Stephen Sklenka, the commanding officer for Combat Logistics Regiment-15, cuts a piece of birthday cake during a cake cutting ceremony on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Nov. 10. The piece of cake was given to the oldest Marine present, Maj. Michael Nolan, CLR-15 Logistics Readiness Center officer-in-charge. The piece was then passed to the youngest Marine present, Lance Cpl. Jorden Sexton, a motor vehicle mechanic with Combat Logistics Company-153, signifying the passing of knowledge and tradition from young to old.

Photo by Sgt. John Jackson

Combat Logistics Regiment-15 follows in historic footsteps, celebrates Marine Corps birthday in Afghanistan

12 Nov 2012 | 1st Lt. Tyler Morrison

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Marines and sailors from Combat Logistics Regiment-15 celebrated the Marine Corps birthday here in a traditional cake cutting ceremony during morning colors.

This deployed celebration of the Marine Corps birthday stands in stark contrast to the celebrations usually experienced in the United States. Absent are the dress blue uniforms, formal dinners and fancy ball rooms. Spouses and family members were not in attendance. But there was still something special about this particular birthday despite the lack of décor.

Service members in desert camouflage watched as the Marines designated as cake bearers carried the ceremonial birthday cake on a cart made from 2-by-4s and adorned with a poncho liner. The presentation was simple yet significant.

Col. Stephen D. Sklenka, commanding officer of CLR-15, explained why this ceremony will always stand out in the memories of the Marines and sailors present.

"You can add your name to the short list of Marines who have celebrated the Marine Corps birthday in a combat zone. When you're 75 years old and you're bouncing your grandchild on your knee, you can tell them that you served in the Marine Corps and celebrated a birthday forward-deployed in Afghanistan. Not many others can say that."

Remembering the past service of those Marines who have served in previous conflicts throughout the globe is a major part of the birthday celebration. It is tradition to read a message from the current commandant of the Marine Corps as well as a message written in 1921 by Gen. John. A. Lejeune, the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps.

It's also part of the tradition to give both the oldest and the youngest Marine present the first and second pieces of cake. It symbolizes passing years of experience to the younger members of the Corps who will someday pass on lessons of their own. The oldest Marine was Maj. Michael Nolan, the CLR-15 Logistics Readiness Center officer-in-charge, and the youngest Marine was Lance Cpl. Jorden Sexton, a motor vehicle mechanic with Combat Logistics Company-153.

As long as there is a United States Marine Corps, Marines will continue to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday in foreign lands and the service members of CLR-15 were proud to continue that tradition in Afghanistan.


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