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Marines Celebrate 242nd Birthday at Walter Reed Bethesda


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communications

Describing the U.S. Marines as the United States' "pit bulls" when needed, Marine Sgt. Maj. Gary D. Moran served as guest speaker at a cake-cutting ceremony Nov. 10 at Walter Reed Bethesda for the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.
"If you're at your home and a dangerous person is breaking in, do you want a terrier or that pit bull who's going to defend you and your home to the death?," Moran asked.
Serving as the Sergeant Major of Marine Forces Korea before coming to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a recovering service member, Moran said there's a reason Marines have been called "Shock Troops" and "Devil Dogs" during their history. "It's because we are the pit bulls of America.
"It has been said, 'When our nation is least ready, the Marine Corps is most ready. Our Wounded Warrior Battalions are an essential part in ensuring our Marines and nation are ready for the next conflict, and there will be more conflicts," Moran continued. He said efforts, projects and programs assisting wounded warriors and their families in healing are needed more than ever in this day and age.
In its 242 years, the U.S. Marine Corps has fought alongside its "sister and brother services" in nearly every conflict in U.S. history, Moran explained. "For the last 16 years, we have now been fighting the Global War on Terrorism. This has taken a great toll on Marines and other service members.
"Wounded Warrior Battalion-East [Walter Reed Detachment] has been taking care of Marines since early 2007," Moran added. "Myself and many other of my brothers and sisters [are] prime examples of what can happen when you take the time to heal us both mentally and physically, and prepare us for getting back to the operational forces to fight the battles that are needed throughout the world," he furthered.
"The professionals [at Walter Reed Bethesda] not only help heal our bodies, but they take the time to ensure that the wounds of the heart and mind are [treated] as well," Moran said. He added the health-care providers at Walter Reed Bethesda are exceptional not only because of their education, qualification and accreditation, but [also] because of their compassion, empathy "and belief that every Marine they touch [the providers] can possibly make a difference in getting that Marine [on the road to recovery] to a fulfilling life [within the military and otherwise]." 
Navy Capt. (Dr.) John Rotruck, chief of staff for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, also spoke at the ceremony. He said the Marines "are very near and dear" to his heart, having served as a general medical officer for the Marine Corps' 3rd Force Service Support Group in Okinawa, Japan, then as flight surgeon for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina followed by deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
"It's fair to say that those first nine years after my internship, [serving] with so many outstanding Marines, were very formative to me as an officer and a leader," Rotruck continued. "I'm thankful for them to this day," he added. The Navy captain explained how those Marines instilled in him a focus for taking care of junior service members above all else. "That serves as a model for us [at Walter Reed Bethesda] for how we view our patients and families, [who are] the central focus of all of our efforts."
Rotruck furthered that he also came to appreciate how the preparedness and readiness of every component of the Marine Corps contribute to its success on the battlefield, which can also serve as a model that military medicine can follow "as an expeditionary medical force enabling the success of [deployed] war fighters by serving alongside of them."
In a message regarding the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller stated, "This Nov. 10 marks 242 years of warfighting excellence.At places like Trenton, Tripoli, Chapultepec, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Chosin, Khe Sanh, Fallujah, Sangin, and so many others, Marines have fought with an inner spirit -- a spirit that bonds us, bind us together as a cohesive team. It's that intangible spirit that has formed the foundation of our warfighting reputation for the past 242 years. Now it's our responsibility to ensure we honor and carry on that legacy. The American people expect a Corps of men and women who are committed, selfless, willing to sacrifice, who epitomize honor, courage, commitment, virtue, and character. We owe our Nation and our predecessors no less."
The ceremony concluded with the traditional cake cutting ceremony and the singing of the Marines' Hymn.