Marines celebrate 238 years of service to nation[MIGRATE]
By Dawn Arden
| December 16, 2013
You may have noticed Marines running in pairs or small teams, carrying the Marine Corps flag on Nov. 6 or throughout the morning of the Nov. 8 and wondered what it was all about.
Every year here on Fort Leonard Wood, and in several other locations around the globe, you will find Marines participating in a birthday run in which one mile is run for each year, this year that total is 238 miles for 238 years.
“It really doesn’t matter where you are, I’ve run flags around ships on the Marine Corps Birthday at sea when I was a young lieutenant,” said Marine Col. John Giltz, Marine Corps Detachment commanding officer. “A lot of places you can’t run a flag; I’ve celebrated in the desert, on ship, American embassies, in my own home when no one else was around, and even before I was a Marine with my own father.”
The birthday festivities kicked off with a student ball on Nov. 2, when the detachment staff worked the entire event from set-up, serving of the food, take-down and clean-up, allowing the students to enjoy their very first Marine Corps ball.
“The Marine Corps birthday, and particularly their first ball will be something they remember for the rest of their life,” Giltz said. “It’s always kind of neat to be part of the special things in anyone’s life whether they are related to the Marine Corps or their personal life. To be a part of something like that that you know is going to live on is really neat.”
Next up was the birthday run, which started Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. with 236 consecutive one-mile paired runs and culminated with the final two miles by all detachment personnel at 5:30 a.m. Nov. 8. Pairs consisted of one instructor and one student.
“The first team that ran was a prior enlisted major with 20 years in the Marine Corps and a young Pfc., so he’s right out there with him dealing with the elements, but proud to be a Marine and proud to be able to carry that flag and honor all of those that came before us and make it possible for us to do what we do,” Giltz said.
Marine Maj. Jeremy Savage, Engineer Equipment Construction company commander, said he was proud to start off the birthday run and that it’s all about camaraderie.
“I think it’s important, especially at an entry level school house that we’re taking the time to teach the next generation of Marines the importance of our heritage through this run, and running it with a permanent personnel and a student together,” Savage said. “The conversations that were held on that one mile run about the Marine Corps were important, as we pass on the tradition.”
On Saturday, the detachment held the cadre’s Marine Corps Ball at Tan-Tar-A Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks with guest speaker Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general.
To round out the birthday festivities, the Marines received a special visit by Marine Lt. Col. (retired) Oliver North Nov. 12, who took time out from his book signing tour to talk to some of the students about what it is to be a Marine and just how important that title is.
“You’re going to be part of the finest fighting force the world has ever seen — there has never been a Marine Corps or military as well educated, as bright, as big as you are,” North told the Marines.
Giltz summed up the Marine spirit.
“The detachment here enjoys a tremendous reputation in the community and on post for the things we do and where we help, but that’s those Marines and they volunteer, every one of them is a volunteer,” Giltz said. “When you see them helping out, whether it’s at the recycling center, or the fourth of July setup, or the Volkslauf, or out at the Armed Services YMCA, or Toys for Tots — those are young patriots, young brand-new Marines who already have a sense of giving back to their community. We don’t make them do it. They just come forward in large numbers.
“Young patriots stepping forward saying, ‘if not me, who, and if not now, when?’— and (they’re) answering that question by taking the oath and swearing their allegiance and their support even to the death for the constitution of the United States is still a very, very powerful personal statement that somebody can make,” Giltz said.