A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jarhead Birthday

From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli...or in my update, from the halls of Kabul's M.O.D. to the sands of Lashkargah.

From the rooftop of Marine Corps Central Command (Forward) HQ in Kabul airport, taken back in July at an all-Marine BBQ.

Today the Marine Corps celebrates 235 years of kicking ass as the nation's world's premier fighting force.  While that description seems a pretty far cry from what I do on a daily basis, at least I sometimes get to feel like a Marine here.  And exchanging birthday greetings all day with fellow Leathernecks, sometimes even receiving them from Navy, Army and Air Force brethren, makes for a special day in NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.

A squad of Marines approaches the highest flag in all of KAIA. 
The residents, naturally, were nervous at the sight of what looked to be reinforcements.

I did not catch the birthday festivities at ISAF today, swamped in catch-up work after completing a exhausting journey back to my command yesterday.  I returned from a week split between missions in Herat, the primary province of western Afghanistan, and Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of the northern region.  It was an eye-opening getaway, and good for the Marine (not to mention wandering) soul to be out of Kabul for a bit...I look forward to posting photos and descriptions of those adventures.

An Afghanistan promotion for one lucky new Lt.Col.

Today I found myself wishing that I'd stayed a few more days in Mazar, where I was asked if I'd be around to take part in the birthday commemoration they would have in Camp Mike Spann, as the senior Marine...a far cry from where I fall in any pecking order around here.  But anxious to not leave issues and meetings on others' shoulders for too long, I made the painful call to return.  For any of you who haven't seen it, try to catch a USMC birthday cake-cutting you might expect, it's full of ritual and camaraderie (aka, ball-breaking), and truly unlike any other organizational anniversary you might find.

A memorial to Capt. Spann, where he valiantly gave his life.

Mike Spann, incidentally, was a Marine.  Widely known as the first American casualty of this Afghan war, he was a paramilitary operations chief for the CIA when killed while fighting the Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif, nine years ago this month.  I'll post an entire blog with my photos of the massive fort complex where that happened, but found it particularly appropriate to be there so close to the Corps birthday, as Spann served as a Marine officer for six years before joining "the agency."

The memorial reads:
In honor of Mike Spann (1969-2001), a hero who sacrificed his life for freedom, for Afghanistan, for the United States of America.  We will not forget his courage or his life.  May God be with him and bless him.

I'll sign off with a simple wish...that you pause and reflect upon how blessed we are to be Marines, if you are one, and if you're not -- how fortunate we are to have the Corps on our side!  Warriors like Mike Spann, like Cpl. Jason Dunham (Medal of Honor recipient, Iraq, 2004), and like Cpl. Dakota Meyer (just recently recommended for Medal of Honor, Afghanistan, 2009) don't come along every day.  Semper Fi.

Living the good life, yet wishing we were in Helmand.


Blogger Joneser said...

Happy birthday to the Marine Corps! I shudder to think what our nation--and the world, for that matter--would be like without you guys. Semper Fi!

November 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger yomistast said...

Happy Birthday to the Corps! I got goosebumps reading this entry. No wise talking in this post. Much respects.

November 10, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Dina Barnett said...

I'm the (ex)wife of a Vietnam era Marine. Semper Fi, guys. And a very happy birthday.

November 11, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Anonymous LCDR Squidward, USNR (Ret.) said...

Happy Birthday USMC. We Navy types have a lot of our own traditions, and some that we share with you guys, but the way the Corps commemorates its birthday is definitely unique. SEMPER FI.

November 12, 2010 at 6:50 AM  
Anonymous 2LT Magoo, US Army Ordnance Corps said...

Feliz Cumpleanos to you and all Marines around the world, Jagran! Definitely agree with Slappy, the USMC birthday is something special amongst the ranks of all the US military. A few Army buddies (including a few West Pointers) and I toasted especially to the Corps on the bday itself, Semper Fi!!

November 12, 2010 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger FrenchFried said...

"World's premier fighting force"???? hum? Ok, I am not going to argue. Forget the French Legion or even the Royal Marines, they suck....but only on every November 10th...;-) I don't want to ruin your Day, Devil Dog.
Happy Birthday to you all.

November 15, 2010 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Dina, welcome to the blog. Thank you and Semper Fi right back!
Frenchfried, those are fine organizations...but even with Nov 10 in the rearview mirror, the Corps stands tallest!
Jones, Yomista, Squidward & Magoo- youse all make me feel sometimes like I have a bunch more Jarheads in the family. Ooooh raaaah!

November 28, 2010 at 2:20 PM  

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