Marines Celebrate 240th birthday, 70th Anniversary of Iwo Jima

Marines at attention for colors

FORT BELVOIR, Virginia -- Marines past and present gathered at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Nov. 3 to observe the 240th birthday of the Marine Corps and the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II in which the Marines played the pivotal role.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, assistant deputy commandant for installation and logistics for the Marine Corps, was the guest of honor. After an introduction from DLA Logistics Operations Director Navy Rear Adm. Vincent Griffith, Coglianese gave remarks heralding the sacrifices of three Marines who served in logistics roles across three decades and whose valor in combat showed the best of the Corps.

Lance Cpl. Justin Muir was a combat engineer deployed to al-Usufiyah, Iraq, in 2004. His task was to use a small bulldozer to dig trenches for his fellow Marines to use as cover in hostile territory. Muir soon came under small-arms fire; he kept digging but used his M-16 to return fire. Soon he found himself the target of enemy rocket-propelled grenades. Muir and fellow Marines suppressed the enemy fire—and Muir returned to digging. Suicide bombers attacked the Marines' outpost that evening. Yet Muir returned to dig his trenches two days later at a nearby Marine base.

Coglianese then told of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, a logistics officer serving in Ramadi, Iraq. Under continuous enemy fire, Manion rescued a wounded Navy corpsman and a wounded Marine before using his weapon to knock out enemy emplacements. He was killed in action.  

The third Marine Coglianese spoke of served in World War II—Pvt. Damass Sutis of 3rd Force Service Regiment, 5th Depot, 3rd Marine Division. Sutis, who later retired as a gunnery sergeant, was deployed to Guam and then Iwo Jima, where he and his fellow Marines fought off Japanese attacks for five weeks to eventually retake the island. Even though Sutis' official job was to unload ships and do maintenance, when he found himself in combat, he fell back on the "Every Marine a Rifleman" credo. 

In longstanding Marine Corps tradition, the ceremony included the cutting of a cake with a sword, accompaniment by a brass quintet from the U.S. Marine Band, the singing of the Marine Corps Hymn by all Marines, and recognition of both the oldest and youngest Marine present.

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