NAWILIWILI — J.Q. Smith had a double celebration Thursday.
His wife Lillian explained that not only was it the 230th Marine Corps Birthday Ball, it was her husband’s 79th birthday as well.
Gene Bullock, the oldest of the Marines present, explained that in the U.S. Navy, they usually take the Saturday or weekend closest to their anniversary, for the celebration, but the Marines celebrate on Nov. 10 regardless of what day of the week it falls on.
Bullock started his military career as a Navy man, but was “loaned” to the Marines as a corpsman, as is the tradition in the Marines. Since then, Bullock has donned the uniform of the Marines, said another Navy representative in the audience Thursday.
Stan Segawa, who is with the U.S. Army, was also one of the guests, Segawa explained that soldiers worked closely with the Marines for so long that he now attends the Marines’ celebration.
Thursday night, they all came together as the United States Marine Corps League Kaua’i Detachment celebrated the 230th Marine Corps Birthday Ball at a gathering at The Terrace Restaurant at Kauai Lagoons.
Frank Kleckner was named the recipient of the Semper fidelis award for the second year running, while Doug Nielsen was named the recipient of the Marine of the Year by Kaua’i Cmdr. Gene Redden.
“It takes your breath away,” an emotional Kleckner said. “I already was a winner of this award (given for the most motivated Marine), and I told them to give it to someone else. It really takes your breath away when you get voted to this honor by your own.”
In addition to naming the outstanding Marines for the year, the ceremony marking the anniversary of the U.S. Marines is a solemn one, featuring the cutting of a celebratory cake with a saber.
The saber symbolizes the sword carried by the warrior that is the Marine.