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Lance Cpl. Kenneth Martin, food service specialist, Headquarters Battalion, places lobster tails in the oven during preparation for the Marine Corps birthday meal at Phelps Mess Hall, Nov. 10, 2016. The Marine Corps’ birthday is one of the many traditions that Marines take great pride in celebrating annually. (Official Marine Corps photo be Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

A look inside: 241st Marine Corps birthday meal

21 Nov 2016 | Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Since its inception, the Marine Corps has been known as the nation’s force in readiness. Marines are recognized by the way they train, the customs they uphold, and the morals they possess. Although the organization continues to grow, many of the customs have remained the same.

The Marine Corps’ birthday is one of the many traditions that Marines take great pride in celebrating annually and when the time came on Nov. 10, 2016, Combat Center food service specialists partook, once again, in the time-honored observance.

“The Marine Corps birthday meal is pretty much our biggest meal of the year,” said Tommy Vincent, general manager, Phelps Mess Hall. “This is the one meal a year where you get to see the cooks from different units come in to help out and give everybody a hand.”

Preparation for the meal begins three days in advance, with Marines and Sodexo employees working in unison to ensure the birthday meal is just right. On the day of the birthday, the food service specialists of Phelps Hall spend the morning completing the preparation for the infamous steak, lobster tails, baked potatoes and Cornish hens.

“The Marines who prepare the food receive an opportunity to show their appreciation for their fellow comrades,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Burgan, chief cook, Headquarters Battalion. “If you were to look behind the scenes you’d find organized chaos. The Marines take great pride in the products they put on the line. They know what they’re doing and they do it to the best of their abilities.”

In addition to the long-awaited meal, Combat Center patrons, retirees and loved ones enjoyed the sights of the mess hall aptly adorned with scarlet and gold for the occasion, an American Bald Eagle ice sculpture and, for the first time, a performance by the Yucca Valley High School Jazz band.

“This is one of two days out of the year where anyone with base access can come and eat here,” Vincent said. “This is our day to give back so we make sure we serve a quality meal, we have great decorations and live entertainment. We get to see Marines, young and old, and their loved ones commemorate the Corps’ birthday together. Anybody can walk through that door, so we want to make sure we’re doing our part.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms