By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
Sailors and Marines aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) celebrated the 244th birthday of the United States Marine Corps hosted by Brig. Gen. Jason Bohm, chief of staff, Naval Striking and Support Forces (STRIKFORNATO), Nov. 10, 2019.
“The Marine Corps is a people organization,” said Bohm. “We invest heavily in our people and will continue to do so because we understand that they are our center of gravity.”
During his remarks, Bohm talked about the heroic actions of 2nd Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions at the Battle of Tarawa during WWII.
“The story of this warrior epitomizes what it means to be a Marine, which is a complete dedication to mission accomplishment, selfless service to others, and sacrifice,” said Bohm. “Bonnyman didn’t give up, he gave his all and sacrificed for the greater good. Marines take care of Marines. Marines accomplish their Mission. Bonnyman epitomizes the men and women who wear this cloth today.”
The guest of honor was Royal Naval Rear Adm. Robinson, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO. STRIKFORNATO is underway aboard Mount Whitney for exercise Trident Jupiter, certifying the command as a NATO expanded task force.
“This is a fitting place and moment to focus on the U.S. Marine Corps as we are focused on training and how Marines and Sailors are going to work together.” said Robinson. “Seizing the initiative is what Marines and Sailors do together. Semper Fi and Hoorah!”
Following tradition, a Marine Corps birthday cake cutting was held. The first piece of cake is given to the guest of honor, Rear Adm. Guy Robinson. The second piece is given to the oldest Marine present, Lt. Col. Tony McNair and passed to the youngest present, Corp. Trevor Poulin.
“This ceremony demonstrates the ability of the Marine Corps to pass along traditions and keeps the honor and history alive on a personal level, from one human to another,” said McNair, embark officer, Mount Whitney.
Marines traditionally make up Mount Whitney’s ship company. Currently, there are 23 Marines embarked.
“We were honored to have Marines on Mount Whitney and leading this year’s celebration of the United States Marine Corps. It was a very impressive and professional ceremony, quite inspirational,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, commanding officer, Mount Whitney.
Mount Whitney, commissioned on Jan. 16, 1971, is the U.S. 6th Fleet and STRIKFORNATO flagship. Homeported in Gaeta, Italy, the ship operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.