CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan, November 7, 2013
Marines, sailors, families, and friends of the 31st MEU,
It was 238 years ago, on 10 November 1775, that the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces with the U.S. Navy. Only five short months later in March 1776, the first Marine amphibious operation was a raid in the Bahamas under the leadership of Captain Samuel Nicholas, the first Commissioned Officer and Commandant of the Marine Corps. From these humble beginnings sprang a sense of esprit de corps among the Marines, a can-do attitude, and a focus on mission accomplishment regardless of the challenges.
While our uniforms, equipment, and tactics may have changed in 238 years, our expeditionary mindset and preparation for world-wide service in any “clime or place” has not changed and is a hallmark of the Marine Corps. The 31st MEU, partnered with Amphibious Squadron 11, maintains these high standards as the only forward-deployed ARG/MEU in the Marine Corps. The 31st MEU has had a rich history since its activation in 1967, and in 2013 alone, the MEU trained with partners and allies in Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia in multilateral exercises during our Spring and Fall Patrols. The Marines and sailors currently filling the ranks of the 31st MEU continue to set the standard as the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific by being flexible and ready to respond to any contingency or crisis.
While we pause to celebrate the birthday of our Corps, we also remember and honor the millions of U.S. men and women who have served, and in some cases, given their lives in defense of our Nation. Veteran’s Day – originally known as “Armistice Day” to commemorate the end of World War I at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, in the 11th month of 1918 – is a day to honor all veterans for their patriotism, personal sacrifices and selfless service. So, as we celebrate these two sacred occasions, take the time to reconnect with loved ones and enjoy the gift that was given by those who have gone before us: the gift of freedom.
To the veterans of the 31st MEU, and all the veterans who have served our country, thank you for your service. To the families and friends of the 31st MEU, thank you for your continued support and patience. Together, we are able to maintain the traditions of the past while preparing for a better future.
Col John Merna