Beaufort News

Marines pause for 235th birthday event

Col. John Snider, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, hands Lance Cpl. Mykiyah Battiest a piece of cake during the 235th Marine Corps birthday celebration Wednesday afternoon. The first piece of cake, passed from the oldest to the youngest Marine, symbolizes the passing of traditions from one generation to the next.
Col. John Snider, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, hands Lance Cpl. Mykiyah Battiest a piece of cake during the 235th Marine Corps birthday celebration Wednesday afternoon. The first piece of cake, passed from the oldest to the youngest Marine, symbolizes the passing of traditions from one generation to the next. 11/10/10- Jonathan Dyer/The Beau

Beaufort-area Marines joined others around the globe Wednesday in celebrating the 235th birthday of their beloved Corps.

As fighter jets roared off into cloudless skies above Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, more than 150 Fightertown Marines stood at attention on the tarmac outside the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron building for the base's annual cake-cutting ceremony.

The ceremony was one of several local events this month to commemorate the Continental Congress' creation of two battalions of Marines in 1775 to fight the British.

Lt. Col. John Pylant, commanding officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, said the Corps' birthday is a chance to celebrate what it means to be a Marine.

"For every one of you, there are 65,000 Americans who wish they were you," Pylant said. "You're the lucky one. Never lose sight of the fact that you're called on every day to put on that uniform and carry out the mission. You're unique and special."

As part of a tradition started by Commandant Lemuel Shepherd in 1953, a three-tier birthday cake adorned with the Corps' emblem was wheeled out onto the tarmac and cut with a sword by Pylant.

The ceremonial first piece was handed by the oldest Marine present -- Col. John Snider, 51, the air station's commanding officer -- to the youngest Marine present, Lance Cpl. Mykiyah Battiest, a 19-year-old air traffic controller. The gesture signifies the passing of traditions from one generation of Marines to the next.

"To be a part of this celebration today ... and be the youngest one out of all of us is very surreal," Battiest said. "I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17, and days like today help me realize that choice was a very good one."

Though it was the first time he'd been the oldest Marine at a cake-cutting ceremony, Snider said he was happy to be a part of Wednesday's festivities.

"I was honored to do that ... and be with the youngest Marine, who represents the future of our nation and of the Corps," Snider said. "We don't tell (Marines) enough how special they really are. They represent less than one percent of the population. They were the ones who had the guts to stand on the yellow footprints at Parris Island and face their fears. I honestly believe they represent what's good about this nation."

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