FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Nov. 12, 2019) -- A re-enactment of the U.S. flag raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, was one the highlights as the Fort Sill Marine Artillery Detachment (MARDET) celebrated the Marine Corps' 244th birthday.

Hundreds of Marines past and present and their families packed the Patriot Club Nov. 9, to celebrate the legacy and camaraderie of the Marine Corps, which was founded Nov. 10, 1775.

Program narrator Sgt. Corey Adams, MARDET Enlisted Gunnery School instructor, highlighted the service's major campaigns and milestones. With each, a Marine dressed in that period's uniform marched with music from that era provided by the 77th Army Band.

Almost 20 uniforms were modeled by Marines ranging from the first green uniform of 1775 to the 1847 Mexican-American War and its "Halls of Montezuma" to World War I where the Devil Dog moniker originated to today's campaigns.

Then six Marines with a flagpole charged in from the back of the ballroom to re-enact Joel Rosenthal's famous flag raising image of Marines raising the American flag Feb. 23, 1945.

As part of tradition, 13th Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. John Lejeune's birthday message from Nov. 1, 1921, was read by read 1st Lt. Thomas Richardson, MARDET Officer Instruction Branch instructor.

"In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term 'Marine' has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue," said Richardson.

During the ceremony, MARDET Commander Col. Christopher Tavuchis cut the cake.

The first piece was presented to honored guest retired Lt. Col. Mike Grice. The next piece was presented to the oldest Marine in attendance Sgt. James Lasswell, age 74, as a sign of honor and respect. Lasswell then passed the third piece of cake to the youngest Marine Lance Cpl. Chontu Lee, 20, "symbolizing the passing of wisdom, knowledge, and experience as well as trust and confidence in those who will carry on the Marine Corps traditions," said Adams.

Guest speaker retired Marine Lt. Col. Mike Grice served as gunnery instructor at Fort Sill in 1996, when he was a captain. He retired Jan. 1, 2012, after more than 27 years of service including his enlisted time.

Grice said there are many lessons in field artillery, but probably the most important is that you need to put steel on target on people who need to die before they can kill you, and that's why you're at Fort Sill.

He said when automation was implemented on the gunline it took it 10 to 15 years before it could beat the speed of a well-trained gun crew using paper, pencils, and calculators.

Technology is great but it breaks, Grice said. "Radios don't work, GPS run out of batteries," he said.

In Iraq in 2007, Grice and his gun crew could not figure out why their hundred-thousand dollars rockets were falling short of their targets, so they contacted the subject matter experts at Fort Sill.
It was a software problem involving targeting and the curvature of the Earth, which was remedied by techs here.

"I firmly believe to this day, that the purpose of Marines, Soldiers and our international partners are to be the smartest people on the planet when it comes to field artillery," he said. "The day that people don't pay attention to what people at Fort Sill are doing, is the day that field artillery is lost."

As part of the festivities the audience viewed the 2019 birthday message from Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black. Afterward, guests dined, danced, and mingled.