LINTON MILITARY CAMP, New Zealand - Marines participating in exercise Southern Katipo 2013 celebrate the 238th Marine Corps birthday alongside military members from partner nations at Linton Military Camp, New Zealand, Nov. 10.
The Marine Corps birthday is a day of pride for Marines all over the world. The celebration is conducted in the same manner with only a different landscape.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gordon Butler, the oldest Marine during the celebration and motor transport officer with Combat Logistics Regiment 15, ceremoniously passed the first piece of cake to Lance Cpl. Ryo Bolanos, the youngest Marine and a forward observer with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.
“It feels great,” Bolanos said. “It brings together all the guys I came with and all the individuals that are participating in the exercise. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend it.”
For some Marines, it was their first birthday celebration abroad, and for others, it was added to a handful of similar memories.
“I’ve done it pier side ready to get on ship, in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Butler. “Wherever we are, we stop to do it and it feels great to celebrate it with our Kiwi counterparts.”
Bolanos said he is used to working with a variety of uniforms and units, but rarely under the circumstances of the Marine Corps’ birthday.
“My unit regularly attaches to (partner) and allied forces so it’s great to have this kind of integration for the birthday,” Bolanos said. “This exercise and celebration, it’s all about encouraging military to military relations.”
Marines and members of the New Zealand Defence Force gathered around a television and the cake to watch the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps’ message and offered their own sword to cut the cake.
“One of the New Zealand Defence Force officers told me it was interesting to see a different military’s culture, so I think they enjoyed being here as well,” Butler said. “This has been a great experience. They have a beautiful country, their people are very polite and their military is professional.”
The Marines move forward after the celebration into the follow-on stages of SK13 over the month of November. The joint and coalition forces will execute an amphibious operation as well as a variety of field operations in Timaru, New Zealand.