US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. David A. Ottignon (left), II Marine Expeditionary Force's commanding general, and Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, salute colors during the 247th Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Wilmington Convention Center, North Carolina, on Nov. 5, 2022. The 247th Marine Corps Birthday Ball honors past, present, and future Marines. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan Mitchell.
Three days before the 247th birthday of the US Marine Corps, the service’s commandant told his troops where they'll fight next remains uncertain, “but we prepare for uncertainty.”
“When called, we will fight and we will win — today, tomorrow, and in the future,” said Gen. David H. Berger, a career infantryman who took the helm of the Corps in 2019. “These victories are not won by our technology or our equipment, but because of all of you, because of everything you do every day to remain the best trained, the most professional, most ready force in the world. That has not changed.”
Past and present Marines worldwide trace their lineage back to Nov. 10, 1775, when the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia ordered the establishment of two battalions of fighters to wage war at sea and on land against British forces.
The ancestral home of the Corps is a bar, Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern, where the Marines’ first commissioned officer, Capt. Samuel Nicholas, began recruiting men for the service.
US Marine Corps Maj, Gen. John A. Lejeune decorates Pvt. E.C. McCarmich, Jan. 4, 1919, for combat heroism during World War I. National Archives photo.
On Nov. 1, 2021, Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune issued Order No. 47, which established Nov. 10 as a day of annual celebration set aside to honor “all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.”
Commandants since have continued the tradition, and Berger’s remarks will echo across formal balls, in training depots, at sea, in air squadrons, and wherever Marines stand watch across the world.
Berger took to the social media site YouTube to broadcast his message.
“We are warfighters, first and always,” added Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, in the video. “If the call comes today to go into combat, we will win. That’s no excuse not to be better tomorrow. The individual Marines will make up the team.
“They are the decisive advantage, whether in combat or in competition, training our future Marines in recruit training, or preparing to deploy in one of our Marine Expeditionary Units,” continued Black, a career infantryman and Berger’s highest enlisted advisor. “We’ve always adapted to the changing character of war. Why we fight — and why we win — is unchanged. Here’s our ethos, our character, and our unapologetic resolve to be the most capable and most lethal fighting force in the world.”
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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