Photo Information

A member of the ceremony carries a slice of lemon to the Prisoner of War table during the 236th Navy Birthday Ball at the New Bern Convention Center, New Bern, N.C., Oct. 15. The lemon wedge symbolizes the POW’s bitter fate, if they do not make it home safely.

Photo by Cpl. Miranda Blackburn

Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point Navy Ball gets back to the basics

19 Oct 2011 | Cpl. Miranda Blackburn

History states that on Oct. 13, 1775, President George Washington took command of three armed ships under the authority of the Continental Congress with the intent of intercepting any supply ship. With this action, Washington said, “Without a decisive naval force, we can do nothing definitive.” This is where the United States Navy’s history began.

October 15, sailors from both Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point celebrated the 236th birthday of the United States Navy at the New Bern Convention Center, New Bern, N.C.  

With this year’s theme being “Get back to the basics: Know your heritage,” the ceremony showcased an aspect of Navy life not experienced by many of the guests at the ball that evening by highlighting some of the oldest naval traditions to remind sailors of their history.

Amidst the party and celebration, the Chaplain of the Marine Corps Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben spoke to her fellow “green” shipmates.

“I’m very happy to be sharing this Navy birthday here in ‘Marine land’ with you,” said Kibben. “We sailors have the opportunity to serve with this esteemed group, the Marines. We have the opportunity to serve alongside them in ways that other sailors with never fully understand.”

She shared with them why it is that Marines have such a fondness for their sailors.

“It’s our unique experience,” Kibben said. “You know not only what a (physical fitness assessment) is but a (physical fitness test.) Some of you have even run a (combat fitness test.) You know (meals ready to eat) perhaps a little too well.”

And she went on about what sets the group of sailors that run with Marines apart from the rest.

They can hike with a pack with full gear for as long as the Marines they are caring for. They have served alongside them in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Religious program specialists had no idea what they were signing up for when they had to hop into a humvee and go into the front lines with their unarmed chaplain – who themselves could’ve never imagined what it would be like to be holding the hand or praying with a mortally wounded Marine while they too were under fire.

‘Medical staff officers, corpsmen, doctors, nurses – you’ve also come face-to-face with the stress and crisis, triage and trauma of field hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan,” she added. “But let me leave you with this, your mission finds completion in the continuum of care that you provide for your Marines, your sailors and your families. Ashore, afloat or in theater, the continuum of care is the unbroken bond of support that sailors serving with Marines practice every day.”

In his official birthday message, Chief of Naval Operation Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert told the Navy, “As our birthday is celebrated around the globe, I know you will carry our proud legacy wherever you go. I cannot begin to tell you how honored and privileged I am to be your chief of naval operations. Happy 236th Birthday to you and to your families.”