Marine Corps Systems Command Birthday Ball

Article excerpt

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Washington, D.C., Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thank you, General Brogan for the nice introduction ...

Welcome to the spouses, friends, and loved ones here tonight!

And, Happy Birthday, Marines!

It's great to be back where I belong ... with the greatest fighting force in the history of the world--the United States Marine Corps! When the President and our nation's leaders need the very best ... they call for the Marines!

When security and freedom are threatened around the world ... we rely on the Marine Corps!

When it absolutely, positively must be destroyed overnight!" ... we send the Marine Corps!

That's because, while the Marine Corps is the smallest of America's military forces, they are the mightiest in spirit ...

The Marine Corps has the leanest footprint, but the widest presence around our world ...

The Marine Corps is equipped with the lightest load of firepower, but it delivers the heaviest blow ...

The Marine Corps is a highly-specialized, elite fighting force, driven by the most generalized mindset: "Anytime. Anywhere."

Over the past 233 years, Marines have fought in every major and minor engagement the United States has been involved in ... from Tripoli to Belleau Wood ... from Iwo Jima to the Chosin Reservoir ... from Inchon Harbor to Vietnam ... from Somalia to Baghdad.

General Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, summed it up best when he said: "No matter what the crisis or threat, the nation will have one thought: "Send in the Marines!"

Admiral Nimitz, after the deadliest battle in Marine Corps history ... two Jima, perfectly captured what it means to be a Marine: "Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Our history is filled with profound stories of heroism and bravery by United States Marines. And, the next chapter is still being written by Marines serving in the desert terrain and mountainous regions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of you have been there ...

In the opening days of the war in Iraq ... the Marines fought so rapidly and so effectively that the Iraqi soldiers never knew what hit them ... In fact, one Marine is alleged to have muttered in disdain: "I hope they're better lovers, 'cause they sure can't fight." (1)

It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve alongside the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation. And, in particular, I have been awed repeatedly by the unbelievable acts of courage and the selfless sacrifice made by Marines around the globe.

President Ronald Reagan said, "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. …