MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors of 1st Tank Battalion celebrated their unit’s 67th birthday in a ceremony outside the battalion headquarters Oct. 31.
Tankers, from past and present, gathered to honor their fallen brothers as well as those who received this year’s Tanker of the Year award.
The annual award is given to one Marine from each company who has displayed the highest examples of Corps values and personal conduct, said Sgt. Maj. Conrad E. Potts, the 1st Tank Bn.’s sergeant major.
Gene Berbaum, the president of the Marine Corps Tankers Scholarship Foundation and retired 36th commanding officer of 1st Tank Bn., was one of the attendees at the ceremony. He said it was his personal history with the battalion that brings him back to the ceremony every year.
“I served in four tank battalions,” said Berbaum, a Vista, Calif., native. “And tanks have always been known to be very tight units. Tankers don’t usually lose track of each other after they’ve gone separate ways. They take care of each other.”
Potts explained further on his view of the purpose behind the celebration.
“It’s like what was said in the narration,” said the a Louisville, Ken., native. “We can help the next generation carry on so they may know the freedoms we have today.”
Cpl. Adonai Briseno-jimenez, a welder with Headquarters and Service Company, was one of the recipients of the Tanker of the Year award. Although this was his first time seeing the unit’s traditional ceremony, he said he felt honored to play a role in it.
“I feel pretty … hot not being a tanker and still getting this award,” said Jimenez, a Round Rock, Texas, native. “I feel pretty proud, and my family at home does, too. It makes me feel good being able to be here, celebrate with the battalion and be a part of it all.”
The other recipients of the Tanker of the Year award were: Sgt. Andy Rogers, Co. C; Cpl. Jerre Stead, Co. B; Sgt. Gerald Lentsch, Co. A; and Cpl. Robert Glace Jr., Co. D.
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Gordon, battalion commanding officer, explained the reason behind celebrating not only the Marine Corps birthday, but the unit’s birthday as well.
“This is a time to reflect on the sacrifices and achievements of those who have gone and served before us,” said Gordon, a Boston native. “It can give us success for the future from lessons learned and experiences from the past.”
Although this was Gordon’s first time celebrating the unit birthday as the commanding officer, he said he will do his best to make sure the tradition continues for all future tankers.