CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- "On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousands of men and women have borne the name Marine"- 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General John A. Lejeune, said in his Marine Corps Birthday message.
On November, 10, 2006, Marines from Camp Taqaddum stood together to hear Lejeune's words and celebrate the Marine Corps' birthday. Col. David M. Richtsmeier, commander of 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), urged the audience to remember how Marines have stood together, in every clime and place, for 231 years.
"Just as those who have come before us, the sense of honor, courage, commitment, and patriotism is etched into the souls of all Marines in our ranks today," said Richtsmeier, a 51-year-old native of Waterloo, Iowa.
What began as two battalions of "Continental Marines" fighting to achieve American freedom became 178,000 fighting to defend our freedom and provide it for the Iraqi people.
"Our mission is clear," said Richtsmeier, "help Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror."
Richtsmeier told the "Leathernecks" to thank their family and friends for giving the support needed to focus on the mission at hand. Marines also should not forget their family in combat, Richtsmeier said, and always take care of one another.
"(It's great because of) all my friends that I get to celebrate my birthday with, because we all have the same birthday," said Lance Cpl. LaRonte C. Skipper, a 20-year-old native of Montgomery, Ala., and a disbursing Marine with Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st MLG (Forward).
Many Marines said they felt a strong sense of pride during the ceremony. Others became nostalgic after hearing General LeJuene's message.
"The traditional ceremony hits you in the heart," said Sgt. Raymond A. Cezair, 27 from Brooklyn, N.Y.
"It takes you back to square one, when you (first) got that (Eagle, Globe and Anchor) in your hand," said Cezair, a cook with Headquarters and Service Company, CLR-15.
"It makes you feel like you're right to be a Marine."
The Marines and other service members ended the birthday weekend with a ten kilometer race. It was the second of the five-race Camp Taqaddum Road Race Series. Mr. Lee Farmer of Marine Corps Community Services Camp Pendleton donated 150 t-shirts and will end up donating a total of 600 throughout the series.
The first place Marine male was Cpl. Rodriguez-Perez, a heavy equipment mechanic with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, 3rd Marine Air Wing (Forward), finishing with a time of 41:35. The first place Marine female was Sgt. Colleen Shuster, MWSS 373, with a time of 45:21.
The second place military male, Marine Major Steve L. Newsome, a 34-year-old native of Jacksonville, Fla. and an operations officer for CLR-15, 1st MLG (Forward) said the run was just one more thing service members did to bond together and remember the sacrifices of past service members.
A total of 262 service members and civilians contractors ran and finished the race.