Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq - Birthdays are a guarantee in life; however, it is how they are celebrated that makes them memorable. More than 200 Soldiers from Task Force Marne celebrated the Army's 235th birthday at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, June 13, with a trip through the Army's history.

While the Army's official birthday is June 14, the decision was made to hold the celebration a day early due to significant events happening in Iraq.

"Now you might be sitting there thinking, 'But sir, you're a day early, tomorrow is the Army's Birthday,'" and you'd be right," said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding general of TF Marne and 3rd Infantry Division. "I scheduled it today because tomorrow is a special day for Iraq, a day in which you all can take personal, quiet pride. Tomorrow is the first seating of the newly elected council of representatives."

As Iraq makes history, TF Marne recognized its service to the world.

To commemorate the rich past of the United States' oldest fighting force, Soldiers from the Task Force Marne G-6, or communications section, and the Division Special Troops Battalion color guard attached 178 campaign streamers to the Army flag, while a brief history of each conflict was given.

The streamers, earned for participation in the campaigns, were broken down into 20 groups based on the major conflict they were part of; from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to the World Wars and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

To emphasize the history behind the streamers, four Soldiers were dressed in World War I, World War II, Korean War and modern combat uniforms. These Soldiers placed the main sets of streamers from the time period they represented.

"Those streamers hung today and those uniforms represented here from World War I forward show how after a hundred-plus years of being the most free nation on Earth, as the 20th century dawned, we could not stand by and let others be slaves to tyranny or oppression," expressed Maj. Gen. Cucolo.

"Each streamer represents hundreds if not thousands of lives lost, more Americans, just like you, who left their homes and the United States saying, 'I will not stand by and let this happen. I am one more American since those who came forward in 1775 who will fight to make things right.'"

Following the streamer presentation, the youngest and oldest Soldiers from TF Marne cut the Army's birthday cake. Alongside Maj. Gen Cucolo and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, the TF Marne command sergeant major were Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ray Noble, the senior maintenance officer for the task force, from Savannah, Ga., and Pfc. Deonne Dore, an intelligence Soldier from G-2 and a native of Miami.

The cake cutting portion of the ceremony is an important part of the ceremony because it represents experienced Soldiers passing on history to younger troops.

"We are celebrating our traditions, what makes us special and different," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said. "We are celebrating the self-sacrifice of others over the last 235 years. All 178 battle streamers on the Army colors represent the lives lost and the willingness again to go above and beyond for others. We must pass this tradition on."

With the formal birthday ceremony complete, all attendees were invited to take part in festivities outside that included a barbecue and live music from, Sasquatch, the TF Marne rock band.

"I would say everything has gone very well," stated Capt. Charles Gaines-Hager, the TF Marne G-6 network operations battle captain, from Gainesville, Fla. "Throughout the event I have counted over 200 attendees. This is a great turnout."

Soldiers showed their support and dedication to their service and were able to enjoy some of the comforts of home. The celebration also coincided with the division's 235th day in Iraq for this deployment.

"This felt a lot like being at home," said Spc. Paul Vendt, an intelligence analyst with the TF Marne G-2 and a native of St. Louis, Mo. "Obviously, at home everyone is not wearing the same thing or carrying a weapon, but you can still close your eyes taste the barbecue, listen to the music and it's almost like home. It's great for morale."

Page last updated Mon June 14th, 2010 at 10:00