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What I've Learned: Marine Corps

7 Nov 2013 | Cpl. Lauren Kurkimilis

The Marine Corps celebrates its 238th birthday Nov. 10, 2013. The Corps fought in every American war and conflict. To this day, it continues to be America's elite fighting force.

I’ve been around for quite some time, 238 years to be exact. I’ve seen just about everything.

How many people can say they were born in a tavern and then almost immediately set sail for the Bahamas? Not many. I’ll never forget. Led by Capt. Samuel Nichols, we watched the sun rise as we took the Redcoats by surprise. They never saw us coming.
As a young Corps, I was really active and grew quickly. In 1812, I had 578 active-duty Marines.

My roots can be traced back to the British Royal Marines. I know, back in the day, our countries didn’t always get along and they did burn down almost every public building in Washington, D.C., but the British Royal Marines chose not to burn down the Marine Barracks, out of respect. We’ve come a long way since then and I’ve greatly out grown my ancestor in size, at nearly 25/1, but wounds healed, and today we work closely together. They even come over here to train with my Marines in exercises like Black Alligator.

I’ve been in every American war since the day I was born. I guess they just want to keep me in the starting line-up. I’ve mounted more than 300 assaults on foreign shores from the tropics to the arctic.

When I’m at war, I do not choose to retreat. It even shows in my emblem, designed by my 7th Commandant, Brig. Gen. Jacob Zeilin. My Eagle, Globe and Anchor has been around since 1840 and stands for country, world-wide service and naval tradition. If you notice, it does not bare a shield because I prefer to be on the offensive.

I’m definitely more of a dog-person. My Marines are often referred to as, “Teufel-hunden,” or “Devil Dog.” During World War I, the Germans gave them that name because we revere the hound so much that in 1922, Brig. Gen. Smedly Butler enlisted the first bulldog into my ranks. To this day, we still maintain the tradition of enlisting select “Devil Dogs.”

238 years may sound like a long time, but when I think about it, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to how long I intend to stick around. As long as they still want me, I’ll be here.

I wouldn’t say I’m fashion savvy, but I make sure my guys and gals go out looking sharp. It’s actually a written rule. It has nothing to do with the newest trend or egomania, it’s about pride. They have pride in the way they look, which is an extension of their pride in the way they act and live as Marines.

When I throw a party, I go all out. What better way to celebrate your birthday than with a formal ball? It’s a time for everyone to get out of their daily grind, have a good time and remember that they all share something very special. My Marines work hard every day of the year, they deserve to take part in nothing less than a grand celebration.

The other branches of the Department of Defense are my family. They may do things a bit different, but I think because we are family, we know we all fight for the same cause. The Navy is my brother. When I was young, I used to serve as his security guard and I was smaller than him too! Seriously though, the Navy is always by my side when go to war, just as any good brother should be.

Picking whom I am most proud of is like picking a favorite child. You can’t say which one has done better or out-shined the rest. While some have achieved more accolades than others, every last one made sacrifices to serve my mission throughout the years, no matter what that mission has been. I would say that my most important responsibility to these brave men and women is to forever preserve the legacy of those who have given their lives for my cause.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms