Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Once a Marine, Always a Marine: Happy 244th Birthday!

“Once a Marine Always a Marine, is not just a slogan,” Marine Corps Commandant David H. Berger said as he celebrated 244 years of success as a Corps.

Celebrating the 244th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps. | Photos by Maria Lamb

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved to raise two battalions of Marines to be used primarily on warships. Congress commissioned 31-year-old Samuel Nicholas, a well-known Philadelphian, as captain of the fledgling force of Continental Marines. He then managed to raise two battalions of Marines and began the long illustrious history of the United States Marine Corps. And since 1925, the founding of the Marine Corps has been celebrated all over the globe wherever Marines are present.

In Marco Island, Joe and Linda Mealey have been celebrating the Marine Corps’ birthday since 2011 at the Brewery at the Town Center. Every year they decorate the tables with Marine Corps colors, complete with a Birthday Cake. 2019 was no different as they celebrated the 244th Birthday of their beloved Marine Corps on Saturday, November 8th.

They are usually joined by over 70 Marines and a sprinkling of Navy, Army and even Air Force who are welcomed each year. They are all here to celebrate, renew old friendships, or just to make sure others will not forget—while some, however, do it for those who did not come back. Lil John Reichenberg also attended, complete with a hat and vest decorated with pins and patches attesting to his tour of Vietnam. A Marine named Preston Stiner attended with his son Matthew, also a Marine. Jack Stringer is still the oldest Marine in the group. He said he was in the 8th grade at the end of WWII. He finally got his chance to serve his country in Korea. He was joined in the cake ceremony by the youngest Marine, Tyler Blakemore.

They are all brothers, these band of warriors and the words, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” has never been so true. For them, there are no ex-Marines or former Marines. There are active-duty Marines, retired Marines, reserve Marines and Marine veterans, and once they earned the proud title of Marine, they are Marines for life. Upon graduation from Boot Camp or Officers Candidate School (OCS), you are a Marine forever. Semper Fi!

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