MAD honors Marine Corps birthday

By Matthew Denny NAWCWD Public Affairs

MAD honors Marine Corps birthday The Marine Aviation Detach-ment (MAD) China Lake and Point Mugu celebrated the Marine Corps’ 238 years of service with the traditional Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Kerr McGee Center in Ridgecrest on Nov. 7.

“On Nov. 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress,” as written in Marine Corps order no. 47, also known as Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune’s Birthday Message. “Since that date many thousand men have borne the name ‘Marine.’ In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.”

Lejeune’s message has been read at every Marine Corps birthday celebration since 1921.

During the ball, MAD performed the traditional birthday ceremony, which included the presenting of the colors, the national anthem, the reading of Lejeune’s message, cake-cutting and passing of the cake from the oldest to youngest Marine in attendance, adjutants call and honoring “Anchors Aweigh” (to show naval heritage) and the Marine Corps Hymn. Attendees also watched a video of the birthday message from Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Michael Barrett.

MAD welcomed retired Chief Petty Officer Herbert Swader, as the guest of honor. Swader arrived to his first duty station at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on Dec. 1, 1941, six days before Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. He is also a member of the original Black Cat Squadron 12 (VP-12).

“As Marines, there are certain battles that catch our ear when heard; one of those battles is Guadalcanal,” said Marine Col. Mark Johnson, MAD commanding officer.

“Herb served with Col. Chesty Puller during his seven months serving at Guadalcanal. It was humbling for me to sit in my office last week, casually discussing Guadal-canal with a then 19-year-old sailor. He told me, ‘I really enjoyed serving with the Marines; one day, they took me up to a ridge with them and let me throw a few grenades.’

“For those of you who wear green trousers in the audience, you are dinning with a Pearl Harbor survivor and a combat survivor of Guadalcanal; I’ve never known anybody who has done both.

“We are honored to have Herb with us tonight, and feel free to ask him to share a few sea stories.”

During Swader’s WWII service with VP-12, the squadron received the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces during operations in the South Pacific War Area from Nov. 24, 1942 to June 1, 1943.

“I do have a real honest pleasure for the Marines, because I lived with them in Guadalcanal,” Swader said. “I have a deep love for the Marine Corps, and thank you to everyone here tonigh. It is a real honor to be here.”

After the guest of honor’s remarks, MAD honored retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Shel Simo-novich. For more than a decade, Simonovich has purchased Marine Corps Ball tickets for all corporals and below and their dates, stationed at the MAD. The junior enlisted presented Simonovich with a custom gift, displaying their gratitude.

Attendees also enjoyed a banquet style dinner and birthday cake. They ended the night with dancing.

MAD arranged to donate the remaining food to the Women’s Shelter-High Desert later that evening. The detachment donated about 55 plates of food, along with more than 100 servings of cake.

“This is your night Marines; you have earned it,” said Johnson as he closed his remarks.

“Thank you to you all for attending and sharing in this celebration.”

Story First Published: 2013-11-27