While most may celebrate a birthday with cake, balloons and a party, Marines celebrated a bit differently on Friday at Cherry Point. They ran three miles.
Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, led about 1,000 Marines on a run through parts of the base to celebrate the upcoming 238th birthday of the Marine Corps.
“I’m going to do my next PFT, you all are going to fall out with me and we’re going to run the three miles together,” he told the Marines and sailors after the run. “It’s probably the best I’ve felt on three miles in a long time, so thank you.”
Hedelund mentioned that the day marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands during World War II. He said about 1,200 American and Australians died during the battle but about 18,500 Japanese were killed.
“Fast-forward 70 years, and we’re standing here today, and we have inherited that tradition, that hard-fought victory and that ethos that stays with us and that is part of our ethos today,” he said. “I know you’ve heard from our commandant about how important that ethos is, how important that tradition is to us, to our Corps and indeed to our country, that we carry proudly, wear proudly and viciously protect that ethos, that history and that tradition that Marines die for.
“So, at the beginning of the month that is our birthday, 238 years strong, it is absolutely appropriate that we do something today to commemorate those Marines who died, not just on Bougainville, but throughout our illustrious history and do it with pride, with style and with vigor like we did this morning.”
He said the Marines, sailors and civilians that make up the 2nd MAW do their jobs well.
“We are operationally excellent,” he said. “Nobody is better than the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at delivering aviation fire and support to our riflemen out there in the fleet. Every single one of you contributes to that effort every single day. It’s important that we are good at what we do.
“We respect and we care and we have concern for all, every single one of you, your families and those who support you. We are all United States Marines or we are sailors who support the United States Marine Corps or we are civilians who work with us as civilian Marines. Every single one of you matters.”
The 238th birthday of the Marine Corps is Nov. 10.
“It’s a very important time of year,” Hedelund said. “It’s a very important time for us to get together as brothers and sisters of our Corps and congratulate each other on our wonderful history and our wonderful time together as Marines. And whether it’s four years or 40, it matters not. What matters is that we are now a brotherhood and sisterhood of Marines that will never ever forget our time in uniform.”
He thanked those who serve in the 2nd MAW.
“It is an absolute honor to serve you,” Hedelund said. “Moments like this cannot be replaced. No matter what I have done up until now and no matter what I do in the future, I value this time with you as your servant more than anything else.
“Be proud, be happy during this time of our corps’ birthday and keep charging. Semper fidelis Marines, and happy birthday.”