An Uncommon Birthday Celebration

Capt. Vaughan holds Charter presented by MOAA President Lt. Gen. Atkins.

Col. Marty Lenzini, master of ceremonies; Lt. General Mike Dana, guest speaker; and Sgt. Major Melvin Allen

On Nov. 10 at 5 p.m., guests found the Sol Ballroom warmly lit, the portable bar abuzz with tuxedoed dignitaries, military uniforms and elegant people were in the crowd, and a color guard stood alert at the open door. A birthday cake bearing an eagle, globe, and anchor was readied, as was a small empty table with a single candle burning. Tables were set for a very formal dinner for 80. The Ranch’s Food and Beverage team rigorously followed detailed requirements for the celebration.

Yes, the earnest demeanor and accoutrement signifies that this was the U.S. Marine Corps’ birthday celebration, its 247th.

Festivities began promptly. A color guard composed of Marine-option Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) cadets from the University of Arizona presented the Marine colors and national flag. They were accompanied by their Marine advisors, and all enjoyed the excellent meal.

The SaddleBrooke Ranch (SBR) Marines Club was honored to have its president, Marty Lenzini, as master of ceremonies for the night. The guest speaker that evening, Lt. General Mike Dana, gave thanks, especially to Vietnam vets who fought valiantly, one of whom is Colonel Lenzini who flew 350 combat missions during the Southeast Asia action. Of course, all Marines are celebrated at these annual occasions.

The birthday cake ceremony requires that a Mameluke sword be used to cut the cake. The cross-hilt curved sword is the traditional ceremonial side arm used by Marines. It is a reminder of the sword presented to First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon in 1805 for his valor on the shores of Tripoli.

Following further tradition, the first piece of cake was served to the guest of honor, Lt. General Dana, and the second to the eldest Marine in attendance, Cpl. John Hardy, who in turn gave his piece to the youngest, a Captain from U of A, as a sign of passing on high standards to the new recruits and their inclusion into the Corps. Films shown included the reading of Commandant John LeJeune’s Order of 1921, which standardized the celebrations, as well as training segments, reminders of historical battles and achievements, and the significance of the missing man table.

The SBR Marines Club is open to all former Marines and Navy personnel who served with Marine units. It holds periodic happy hours, usually featuring a club member recalling his combat experiences or briefing members on current Corps activities. Contact Secretary Lowell Graves at [email protected] for more information.

Honor, courage, commitment, and moral behavior are values held by the few, the proud, the Marines. Their presence in SBR is appreciated.