Photo Information

The oldest Marine present, retired Sgt. Maj. Bill Paxton, takes the first bite of cake during a cake-cutting ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 9. During the yearly ceremony, the oldest Marine takes a bite of cake then passes the cake to the youngest Marine present to symbolize the passing of wisdom from one generation of Marines to the next.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

Cake cutting brings old life to new Corps

9 Nov 2012 | Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

The Marine Corps celebrated its 237th year of existence Nov. 10, and Marines all over the globe honored those years of service with Marine Corps birthday balls and traditional cake cutting ceremonies.

These celebrations remind every Marine of the sacrifices made by their brothers and sisters before them, and how the Corps became the organization it is today.

“It’s a time to reflect on the past, present and future of the Marine Corps,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Hawthorne, the station training officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, and a Cleveland native. “It’s that time of the year that we have the opportunity to really take pride in our country and the Corps.”

Hawthorne, who enlisted in 1984, has attended 28 Marine Corps birthday balls throughout his time in service. However, at this year’s ball, he had the honor of attending as the oldest Marine present.

With this title, Hawthorne participated in the traditional cake cutting ceremony that symbolized the passing of knowledge from the oldest to the youngest Marine present.

“There was 30 years difference between me and the youngest Marine,” said Hawthorne. “Participating in the ceremony gave me the same sense of pride I had when I graduated from boot camp.”

“The best words of advice I can give to Marines is to treat yourself and others firmly, fairly, and with dignity and respect,” he explained. “If they do that, they’ll excel at whatever they do, and they’ll be the best Marine they can be.”

For Lance Cpl. Brittany Coventry, an administrative specialist with H&HS and the youngest Marine present at the ball, the birthday of the Corps meant something a little more.

“I was actually born on Nov. 10, so it was really awesome to see it click for everyone that I was born on the Marine Corps’ birthday,” said Coventry, a Scottsdale, Ariz. native who was born in 1993 and enlisted Jan. 3, 2012.

“It was my first ball, and it was great to take in all of the traditions of the Marine Corps,” said Coventry. “It made me realize that I’m part of history in the making.”