Navy's 234th Celebrated in Expeditionary Fashion at Camp Lemonnier
The Navy's 234th birthday was celebrated at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ), October 10, 2009 in truly expeditionary style with a checklist of only three necessary items: sun block, malaria medication and the desert camouflage uniform (DCU).
"This is certainly the first time I've attended a ball wearing combat boots and a U.S. Navy uniform," said Brigadier General Chris Leins, deputy commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). "But it's all done in the spirit of the moment, celebrating the Navy's birthday with our joint, coalition, and interagency partners who are all working together to achieve U.S. and international objectives in a part of the world most Americans seldom see or hear about."
Though the environment at CLDJ's celebration was different than most Navy Balls, the underlying ambiance of mission-oriented moral accomplishment and commitment to the world's greatest naval force glowed from the enlisted and commissioned service members as they paid tribute to the Navy.
"It was my first Navy ball and it made me feel proud to be a Sailor," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Rothenberger. "I got to experience traditions I didn't know about. The ceremony really helped me understand the history and importance of being a sailor."
After a short introduction and an acknowledgement of the distinguished guests, nearly 200 Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force personnel indulged in a 5-star quality meal. Offset at the front of the room stood a table, perfectly set, to honor the brave individuals who never made it back home.
"Those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice paved the way for us," said Master Gunnery Sergeant Philip Roberson, the senior enlisted advisor for all Marine elements at CLDJ. "They should never be forgotten. They are the reason we have a heritage to live up to."
Along with honoring the fallen men and women from past and present conflicts, the camp's Commanding Officer, Captain William Finn, also honored the spouses and significant others who could not be in attendance.
"Tonight we celebrate alone knowing fully that they are in our hearts and minds because without them our time here would be far more difficult to manage if not impossible," Finn told the audience.
After nearly three hours of celebratory speeches and toasts honoring the Navy, the evening ended with the master of ceremonies reading the 2009 birthday message from the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead.
"I thank you and your families for all you do," Roughead's message read. "On October 13, whether you are at sea or ashore, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on your extraordinary accomplishments and our Navy's 234-year legacy which each of you continue to build upon. Happy birthday, shipmates."
Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa and is the only U.S. military infrastructure located in Africa to provide a base of operations U.S and Coalition forces. The camp is the primary base of operations for U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa and supports more than 23 tenant commands.
For more information about Camp Lemonnier visit www.cnic.navy.mil.