10th Marines honors patron saint of artillery

17 Nov 2000 | Cpl. Valerie A. Martinez

Each year, artillerymen around the world honor the patron saint of artillery, Saint Barbara. The 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division here, gives special recognition by coming together for an annual celebration to give thanks for her protection. In an interview with Col. Henry Gobar, commanding officer of the 10th Marines, he explained the reasons his unit honors the saint.

1. Can you give me some background on what St. Barbara's Day is?

Barbara was a beautiful maiden who was imprisoned by her father because she embraced Christianity. When she refused to obey him and renounce her new faith, he had her beheaded. Legend has it upon his returning from the beheading, he was struck by lightning, or according to some sources, fire from heaven. As a logical consequence, Barbara came to be regarded as the sainted patroness of those in danger from thunderstorms, fire, explosion and the like. Because early artillerymen were often exposed to misfires, muzzle bursts and exploding weapons, they adopted St. Barbara as their protector against such occupational dangers.

2. How did you come to find out about St. Barbara?

The legend of St. Barbara was passed down to us from our predecessors. We are merely continuing to pay homage and regard her as our protector against occupational dangers associated with artillery weapons and ammunition.

3. What is the importance of St. Barbara's Day to the 10th Marines?

I think it's our second most important celebration next to the Marine Corps' birthday. It's a good time to feel good about ourselves as artillerymen. It gives up a chance to pay homage to her for giving us protection over the last year.

4. What do your Marines do to celebrate and honor St. Barbara?

We will have a regimental run down Julian C. Smith Blvd. We will also have a field meet. It is a competitive event where we give the St. Barbara's trophy away to the battalion who wins the most points.

5. How long has the statue been in existence at 10th Marines?

The statue you refer to is the Trophy of Saint Barbara. The former Regimental Executive Officer Lt. Col. Carlos Camarena specially crafted it last summer and 1st Battalion, 10th Marines was the first to claim right to it.

6. Which 10th Marines unit do you foresee winning the Trophy of Saint Barbara
this year?

I think we have four very competitive artillery battalions and an equally competitive regimental headquarters battery. You can bet that all five units will be doing their best to get the trophy. I expect a close finish.

7. Can you tell me a little more about the Order of Saint Barbara?

The artillerymen have two awards in honor of St. Barbara. The first and most common is the Honorable Order of St. Barbara, normally awarded to artillerymen and those who have served with the artillery and whose performance has stood out far above his peers. The second is the Ancient Order of St. Barbara awarded to a very select few, whose performance and contributions to the artillery community singularly stands out above all others.

8. Will 10th Marines continue to honor the saint?

As long as our business involves working with guns and ammunition, we will continue to honor and look to St. Barbara to protect us from unexpected dangers.

9. Do other services and units observe the saint?

The U.S. Army celebrates St. Barbara in a very similar fashion. Artillerymen in most western countries also regard St. Barbara as their patron saint and often do appropriate ceremonies.

10. Have you been in a situation as an artillery officer where you thought the saint protected your Marines?

I know that St. Barbara is looking out for young Marines on the gunlines. How else do you explain the performance of such superb artillery batteries and battalions in this regiment?