More than 2,500 participate in formation run

More than 2,500 Marines from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing celebrated the Marine Corps’ 241st birthday Thursday with a three-mile run around Cherry Point.

Marines from 2nd MAW units and many other units aboard the air station mustered before sunrise at the parade grounds in front of the headquarters building. Cadences echoed off the buildings as the Marines ran down C Street toward Sixth Avenue and the flight line.

“It’s an annual thing and it’s a joint endeavor,” said Staff Sgt. Rebekka Heite, public affairs chief of the air station. “2nd MAW leads the way, but Cherry Point comes out and joins us as well. Every unit from the base is represented out here.”

Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher, sergeant major of the 2nd MAW, said the run makes him feel young again.

“They’re all motivated so you’ve got to be motivated as well,” said Thresher. “It is also to refocus them for our annual Marine Corps birthday because that’s the time of the year when we stop and pause for a second to rededicate ourselves to why we joined individually in the first place to be part of this bigger team.”

The Marine Corps birthday is Nov. 10, with Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

Thresher’s grandfather was in the Marine Corps during World War II and his father was in in the Air Force serving in Vietnam.

“I grew up in a family of veterans, people who have served this country since before the Civil War,” said Thresher. “A lot of the Marines here, their families are veterans, so what that means is you have a sense of duty to the country and a sense of duty to the Marine Corps.”

Americans, Thresher said, just need to remember why they have their freedoms.

“Coming up here in just a few days we have the vote for United States president, and things like that are a luxury in today’s world. Not all countries get to vote,” said Thresher. “There are certain unalienable rights that they have that they take for granted and that are given to them by veterans, people willing to take up arms and go to foreign places and stay there for an unknown amount of time and unfortunately at times do harm to people.”

Brig. Gen. Matthew Glavy, commanding general of the 2nd MAW, said the run is “about this idea of teamwork, being together and running together, being in step when appropriate.”

“Even when you are tired and you’ve got the person next to you kind of inspiring you, so the idea of teamwork, the buddy system … being right there next to your buddy, is very powerful,” Glavy said. “Those guys and gals who have great PT standards probably could run twice as fast, but being around those that maybe don’t is tremendous and all working together for the unit to be successful by individuals being successful.”

The Marine Corps birthday gives Marines a chance to think about the history of the Corps, Glavy said.

“Opportunities like the Marine Corps birthday force us to stop and think about how fortunate we are, how blessed we are to be United States Marines, and everything we have got to uphold,” he said. “There is a lot there. So we have got to take this time, perhaps a time of introspection to make sure that each one of us is upholding the standards of our beloved Corps.

“It’s not insignificant. It’s 241 years. A lot of tradition there, and it’s as good today is it was 100, 200 years ago. I’m really proud of our Marines. They will tell you that they are probably the best ever, so we’re lucky. It’s an incredible honor to be part of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.”

Glavy said Americans need to be aware of the sacrifices made by veterans next week.

“The sacrifice of our men and women, all those who have come before us, all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but also those who have returned with all the scars and all the memories, and certainly the ones who are out there standing post today,” he said.

Glavy said many Marines in the 2nd MAW are currently deployed.

“They are in harm’s way. They are flying in harm’s way. They are operating in harm’s way. It’s a dangerous world,” he said. “We as Americans can’t forget it and the United States Marine Corps can’t forget it as well.”

Observations of the Marine Corps Birthday continue Friday with a Marine Corps Birthday Pageant and Cake Cutting at 10 a.m. at the base theater. Uniforms used by Marines through the history of the service will be on display.

“I would say that this year’s Marine Corps Ball, from the commandant and the sergeant major is about a reunion and about not forgetting the veterans,” said Thresher. “Americans have short memories and so I think it’s about remembering the veterans. I saw last night on the CMA Awards that Walmart is doing a green porch light for all the veterans, so I would say don’t forget to put out your green porch light. I’m going to go buy mine. Don’t forget that veterans, some of them are retired now and they are out or they are medically discharged, or they just did their four years and got out and now they are camouflaged in civilian clothes, so don’t forget them.”