MARINE CORPS BASE, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
A handful of Marines from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific visited wounded and veteran Marines giving them a piece of cake celebrating the 232nd Marine Corps Birthday during Operation Happy Birthday, Nov. 5.
“It’s a great way to show that Marines take care of Marines,” said Staff Sgt. Obi Rogers, MARFORPAC intelligence staff noncommissioned officer. “We don’t want them to think they’re forgotten.”
Every year Marines celebrate their birthday on November 10, and as part of the ceremony the first two pieces of cake go to the guest of honor and the oldest Marine present who passes his to the youngest.
The idea of Operation Happy Birthday came from Rogers, whose former command did it the entire week prior to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. This is the first year MARFORPAC has incorporated the program.
The leathernecks visited with past and present Marines at Tripler Army Medical Center, Vietnam Veterans of America (Oahu Veterans Association), Women Marines Association and a homebound Marine living in Kailua.
Some of the Marines at Tripler were being treated for wounds received in Iraq and are unable to attend their unit’s birthday ball.
“We’re in a brotherhood,” said Cpl. Derrick Fledseth, administration NCO, G-3. “Whether they’re in the hospital away from their unit or a Vietnam vet, they need to know we still remember them and what they did.”
The veterans weren’t stuck in a hospital, but they miss Marine Corps tradition just as much.
“It was a privilege and an honor to meet the Marines from Camp Smith and celebrate our birthday together,” said Lu Parker, a member of Oahu Chapter 858, Vietnam Veterans of America. “What they did today demonstrates our founding principle – ‘Never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another.’”
The MARFORPAC Marines enjoyed visiting the vets as well.
“It was interesting to hear their stories about the Vietnam War and what the Corps used to be like,” said Fledseth. “It reminds me of where we came from.”
Parker said he appreciated the Marines participating in Operation Happy Birthday who gave of their time.
“Their heartfelt, yet simple gesture of gratitude toward us veteran Marines is a clear signal that today’s Marine Corps is in great hands,” said Parker.