VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- To commemorate the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps, military members and a special guest gathered in Dam Neck Annex galley for a cake-cutting ceremony Nov. 6.
During the traditional cake-cutting ceremony, a piece of cake is passed from the oldest to the youngest Marine demonstrating the passing of the honor, experience and heart of the Corps to the next generation of Marines.
"To me, this tradition is very important because being that this is my first military ball, it is an honor being the youngest Marine," said Pvt. Devin Lamberty-Soto, student at Marine Corps Intelligence Schools.
After thanking guests for taking the time to attend the ceremony, Lt. Col. Damian Spooner, Dam Neck Marine Detachment commanding officer, introduced World War II veteran Darwin Rogers and his family. Rogers served with the 4th Marine Division during the battle of Iwo Jima.
"He is part of a generation that sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy today," said Spooner. "It is truly an honor to have everyone here, to take time to reflect on the rich and celebrated history of the Marine Corps."
During his speech, Spooner thanked the galley for hosting the ceremony and introduced the guest of honor Col. Dave Burton. Burton has served in the Marine Corps for more than 25 years and is currently commanding officer of Marine Corps Intelligence Schools.
Burton discussed how it was appropriate that the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. quoted Gen. Alexander Vandegrift, the 18th Commandant, in his birthday message, "A birthday is a fitting time to peer backward; and forward."
"It is important that we look backward because we have a member of the famous 1st Raiders Battalion with us," said Burton. "The Marine Raiders are said to be the first U.S. special operations unit to form and see combat in World War II."
Burton continued to discuss the accomplishments of the World War II Marine Raiders and how, now, the training curriculum of the present day Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command has been aligned with the Marine Raiders of the past, naming portions of the training after those first special operators.
"We honor our past, we celebrate today our present, and we build for the future; happy birthday Marines," said Burton.
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