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Marine Corps 2018 Birthday Messages from CMC Neller, SECNAV Spencer

The following are 2018 messages from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Secretary of Navy Richard V. Spencer on the occasion of the Marine Corps’ 243rd Birthday.

Gen. Robert Neller


As we celebrate our 243rd birthday, Marines remain in combat, forward-deployed throughout the world confronting every challenge with courage, loyalty, and faithfulness. Each year on this day, we renew our resolve to be the most ready when the Nation is least ready; we pay tribute to all who forged our proud legacy; we recommit ourselves to defending freedom anytime and anywhere; we stand ready to aid those devastated by natural disasters; and we honor the families and loved ones who faithfully stand beside us.

This year marks a number of significant milestones. One hundred years ago this June, a determined brigade of Marines fought ferociously over the hallowed grounds of Belleau Wood. Those Marines solidified our Corps’ global reputation for being a tenacious and highly-skilled fighting force that forever etched the phrase “Teufel Hunden” into our lexicon. The same year Marines secured control of Belleau Wood, more than 300 women answered our Nation’s call, becoming the first females to enlist in our Corps. The legacy of the first Women Marine Reservists, and all trailblazing Marines, serves as a reminder that the title Marine is not restricted by gender, color, or creed it is a warrior spirit and distinguished role earned by an elite group.

This year also marks 50 years since Marines fought ferocious battles against a worthy foe in some of the most austere locations of Vietnam. The indomitable spirit and unyielding resourcefulness of Marines cutting through the mountainous triple canopy jungles and overcoming the challenges of urban combat during the “Tet Offensive” honed the warfighting prowess of our Corps. Hard lessons learned at Khe Sanh and Hue proved crucial to our successes during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom allowing us to secure victory in the fields of Sangin and on the urban battlefields of Fallujah. It was also at Hue that now retired Sergeant Major John Canley charged enemy machine gun positions and put his own life on the line to ensure no Marine was left behind, epitomizing the true meaning of Semper Fidelis. Today, we proudly honor his faithfulness with our Nation’s highest award for valor.

For 243 years, Marines have fought and won whenever and wherever the Nation calls. In the harshest conditions, over the most brutal terrain, and against the most formidable enemies, Marines defend the ideals of freedom with grit and tenacity. Though battlefields change and capabilities evolve, history proves that true victory comes from the individual Marine with steeled resolve, the drive to overcome any obstacle, and the warrior spirit to fight on against all odds. It takes that steadfast faithfulness Semper Fidelis to Corps, country, and each other that abounds throughout our storied legacy.

Happy Birthday, Marines!


Robert B. Neller
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer

To our Marines, civilians, families, and friends:

For 243 years, United States Marines have set the standard for military excellence, ready to respond at any time, in any place, whenever there is a need.

One hundred years ago, the enemy called them the Devil Dogs for the way they turned the tide at Belleau Wood. Seventy-five years ago, the shores and jungles of Tarawa shook with the determined charge of United States Marines. And fifty years ago, Marines like Gunnery Sergeant John Canley imposed order on the chaotic urban battlefield of Hue.

It was my honor to meet now Sergeant Major Canley (retired) and to add his name to the Hall of Valor following his receipt of the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was a reminder of the service and sacrifice of the unbroken line of patriots, from its beginning in the earliest days of the revolution, through the Marines it was my honor to serve alongside, to the warriors who stand watch throughout the globe today.

Polly and I are forever grateful for all that you, your families, and your loved ones do for our nation. Because of your hard work and dedication, the foundation for restoring readiness and increasing lethality has been set. But as we enter our 244th year of service, we must now build on that foundation with a committed sense of urgency. We are accountable for how and where we invest our time and our resources, and we must understand the readiness and lethality we gain from those investments.

Solve the problems in front of you. Send solutions up the chain, and empower those you command to do the same. Ask yourselves and each other how can we accomplish our mission better, faster, and more efficiently. With your help, I have no doubt we will leverage every resource, leading practice, and efficiency we can find with the professionalism, integrity, and accountability the American people have come to expect from the Corps after 243 years of honor and valor.

Happy Birthday, Marines. God bless you, God bless the United States Marine Corps, and God bless the United States of America. Semper Fi.

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer