On the eve of the ‘ 241st Birthday, the secretary of the Navy talked to hundreds of Camp Lejeune Marines about their duty to uphold the Corps’ legacy.
Citing the Corps’ dedication to tradition, Ray Mabus was the guest of honor at the annual Joint Daytime Ceremony, held Wednesday aboard Camp Lejeune.
“One thing I like to do around the birthday is to go out to where the Marines are,” Mabus said. “Coming to Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point and seeing these Marines and talking to them about this history of the Corps and their duty as the rightful heirs of that legacy. It is one of the most special things that I do.”
Mabus was at Cherry Point to officially name an LHA-8 ship. He spoke about the importance of the name chosen for the new vessel, the USS Bougainville.
It has been more than five decades since a ship has been named after the more than year-long World War II engagement aboard Bougainville Island, Mabus said, and having such a prestigious name on the side of the ship was more than an honor to the .
He explained that during the conflict five Medals of Honor were awarded, four of which were presented to Marines.
“It was time for this name to return to the living history of the Marines,” he said.
Before heading to Cherry Point, Mabus spent the morning at Camp Lejeune. He presented Base Camp Lejeune and Logistics Base Albany leaders with the Secretary of the Navy Energy and Water Management Awards.
He and dignitaries from Installation East also took part in the Marines’ traditional birthday cake cutting ceremony, with Mabus receiving the first piece of cake as the guest of honor, per tradition, from Commanding General of Camp Lejeune Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley.
The oldest Marine present, Assistant Chief of Staff of II Marine Expeditionary Force Col. Robin Gallant, received the second piece of cake.
Gallant has served 37 years and five months in the .
The youngest Marine was Pfc. Shy Hudson, who joined the Corps in April of this year.
The Commandant’s message was read at the ceremony. This year Gen. Robert Neller’s words encouraged Marines to do a trio of things while celebrating 241 years of service and dedication to the United States: to celebrate history, honor those who have gone before and rekindle the bond that connects all Marines.
“Marines we are part of something bigger than any of us could imagine,” the message read. “Whether you fought in the battles of World War I, in the Pacific during World War II, in Korea or Vietnam, in Desert Shield or Desert Storm, or in the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan, or you are just starting out on your journey, we are all part of an elite family of warriors. For the rest of your life, the first term people use to describe you will be ‘Marine.'”
Mabus left the Marines present at the ceremony with a final task of keeping ‘ values alive, surrounded by more than a dozen Marines in historical uniforms from major wartime conflicts the had a presence in from 1774 to present day.
Each uniform was presented with a short description of the conflict the Marines were engaged in w, presenting a physical recollection of the valor and commitment of the Corps through the years.
“During the celebration today we look both backward and forward with tradition and pride,” he said. “Nobody can touch the United States . It is your job during your time in the Corps that that honor, and pride and tradition never changes.”
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