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Marine with Marine Wing Communication Squadron run the last mile and half during a Birthday Run aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 10. During the last mile and half, the commanding officer carried the baton to the finish line.

Photo by Pfc. Raquel Barraza

MWCS-38 brings back tradition of Birthday Run

10 Nov 2012 | Pfc. Raquel Barraza

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – The Marine Corps has many different traditions, whether it is service wide like the birthday cake-cutting ceremony or a unit based birthday run like the Marines with Marine Wing Communication Squadron 38 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 9.

In the halls of the squadron, a trophy case held batons from previous years when the squadron would do birthday runs running a mile for every year the Marine Corps existed. Around 2003, the tradition stopped for operational reasons.

Sgt. Maj. Shawn Isaacson, the sergeant major of MWCS-38 and a Salt Lake City, Utah, native, decided it might be time to bring that tradition back.

“With the draw down in Iraq and less deployments it seem like a good time to start it up again,” said Isaacson.

More than 150 Marines with the squadron alternated running the 237 miles that began Nov. 9 at 1 a.m. and lasted a total of 31 hours and 20 minutes.

“It’s great to see the level of dedication in the Marines who ran this,” said Isaacson.

Many Marines with the squadron who ran stayed to support other runners.

“I’m out here for the motivation,” said Lance Cpl. William Gerland, a tropospheric scatter radio multi-channel equipment operator with MWCS-38 and an Easton, Md., native.

In the end, the goal of the run was not only to bring back a tradition, but to bring the squadron together for a common cause.

“We’re trying to get these Marines to realize they’re all a part of a bigger picture,” said Isaacson. “We want them to accomplish something as a squadron.”     

By the last mile and a half, some Marines even came back to run with the sergeant major and commanding officer of MWCS-38.When the commanding officer crossed the finish line, the time was 8:20 a.m. Nov. 10.


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing