Grissom Marines celebrate 243 years of Marine Corps history

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Harrison Withrow
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs
Grissom’s Marines commemorated the 243rd birthday of the Marine Corps during their annual ball in Indianapolis, Nov. 17. Men and women of Detachment 1, Communications Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, enjoyed an evening celebrating the spirit, history and tradition of the United States Marine Corps.

The guest speaker for the evening was Nick Popaditch, a retired Gunnery Sergeant known as the “Cigar Marine”, who became famous for a photo taken of him as his unit helped topple the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. He is also the author of “Once a Marine” and “The Ultimate Marine Recruit Training Guidebook”.

“He absolutely lives and breathes the Marine Corps, and you could certainly feel that in the way he spoke,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wesley Marion, 434th Air Refueling Wing Command Chief. “It was beyond inspiring to see not just him, but all the work that went into making that a memorable evening.”

Marion was invited by Detachment 1, along with other guests from the 434th ARW, to attend the Marine Corps Ball.

“It was interesting to be there as an Airman and watch from a sort of outside perspective,” he said. “I really appreciated the level of comraderie and amount of energy that I got to see, and it was such a great honor to be there.”

Popaditch fired up the audience with stories of the Corps’ triumphs throughout history, eliciting cheering and applause at many points throughout his speech.

“He was larger than life,” said 1st Sgt. Phillip Kent, Detachment 1 inspector and instructor. “He’s a Marine through and through, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to speak at our ball.”

Kent commented that for traditional Reservist Marines, maintaining espirit de corps is especially crucial.

“When you’re only putting on the uniform one weekend a month, it can be hard to remember that you are a Marine,” he said. “Coming together for a night of comraderie, listening to someone like Popaditch who exemplifies the Corps, and sharing in our rich and storied Marine traditions helps remind them who they are and why they’re here.”

The Marine Corps Ball had a heavy focus on history, and the Marines took great pride in being a part of that history.

“Marines live and die by their traditions,” said Kent. “We’ve defended the nation since 1775 and that heritage is at the forefront of everything we do.”

All in all, this year’s ball was a tremendous success, said Kent.

“We were incredibly pleased with it all,” he said. “Everything went as well as we could have hoped for, and the Marines and their families all had a great time.

“Having it in Indianapolis was great too,” Kent added. “In previous years we held the ball in the local area, and this was a big step up for us.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s Marine Corps Ball, said Kent.

“We’ve started the selection process for next year’s location as well as fundraising for it,” he said. “We could have it just about anywhere but we want something nice for our Reservists that they’re going to really enjoy, because they’re what this is all about.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

Stay connected with the 434th ARW on Facebook and Twitter.