Marines prepare to celebrate their 234th birthday

Beaufort-area Marines are pressing their dress uniforms and polishing their medals in preparation for something of a local holiday -- the 234th birthday of the Marine Corps.

Formal balls, cake-cutting ceremonies and even Marine Corps birthday galas for children are on tap this month for Marines stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island as the bases celebrate the Corps' birthday Tuesday.

Dubbed the "Continental Marines," the force was born of a committee meeting of the Continental Congress at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia to draft a resolution calling for the creation of "two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore," according to the Corps. The resolution passed on Nov. 10, 1775.

Marine Corps birthday events help remind Marines why they joined the volunteer fighting force, said Gunnery Sgt. Tony Price, an air traffic control communications technician at MCAS Beaufort.

"To me, it's a time-honored tradition which allows Marines from all over the Corps to come together," Price said. "It's an awesome way to give remembrance and reminds me of what I signed up for -- a brotherhood of men and women."

For the first time, the air station held its annual birthday ball off-base Friday night, moving the base's gala to the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. In years past, the base held separate balls for enlisted personnel and officers.

Set to attend just his second Marine Corps birthday ball, Cpl. Jeremy Gooch of Parris Island's Headquarters Service Battalion said the ball is a chance to don his dress blue uniform and bond with his fellow Marines.

"It's motivating to be there with other Marines, "Gooch said. "Everyone is dressed up having a good time and celebrating. The Marine Corps Ball doesn't happen everyday."