MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
As more than 200 Marines, sailors, retirees and civilians sitting on the bleachers looked out onto the cold field, Marines marched out to take their places near state flags fluttering in the morning breeze. Some held antique government issue rifles with dull, chipped bayonets, while others wore old wool uniforms with shiny brass buttons and coattails. As the Marines, the Combat Center band and the assembled crowd waited, the narrator began speaking.
The Combat Center hosted the 2008 Marine Corps Birthday Pageant at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field Wednesday. The annual pageant is an event held at Marine Corps installations worldwide with the purpose of honoring past Marines, battles fought an illustrious history while also recognizing the generation of Marines to come.
Marines and sailors dressed in uniforms of past eras marched from their positions to a point front and center one at a time as a biography was narrated about the era when the uniform was worn by Marines at the time.
After the pageant, a birthday cake was wheeled out on a cart to celebrate the birthday of the Corps which is actually Monday.
Pfc. Raleigh Collins, a student in Company A, Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School, was the youngest Marine present and played a role in the ceremony.
Collins, who was born in 1990, took a piece of cake from the oldest Marine present, Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Knipple, Traffic Management Officer officer-in-charge, who was born in 1957.
“I feel very lucky and honored,” said Collins about the ceremony. “I was very glad just to be a part of the ceremony.”
Brig. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the Combat Center commanding general, said during the ceremony that this day was about enlisted Marines.
“You heard earlier today that America does not need a Marine Corps, but America wants a Marine Corps,” said Gurganus, a Wilmington, N.C., native. “America is still counting on you and you are still delivering. Happy birthday, Marines.”