CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The United States Marine Corps will celebrate its 237th birthday today with a pageant at Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County.
The free public event hosted by the base and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Flags representing units across the sprawling base will be brought together for a massing of the colors ceremony.
Music will be provided by the 1st Marine Division band.
By tradition, the guest of honor at the event -- whose name was not provided in advance -- will receive the first piece of birthday cake served at the event. The second goes to the oldest Marine present, who will pass it to the youngest in attendance.
Marines in period uniforms will be on hand to discuss major combat operations since the corps was created by the Continental Congress in 1775 as a branch of the Navy. Two battalions were formed.
In 1776, 234 Marines led by Capt. Samuel Nicholas conducted their first amphibious operation when they captured a stash of gunpowder stored by the British at Fort Nassau, Bahamas. Their fame grew as a force to be reckoned with in the early 1800's when they stormed the Tripoli lair of Barbary coast pirates.
Today, according to the Marine Corps' official website, the service makes up 15 percent of the Defense Department's active ground maneuver brigades, 11 percent of its fighter/attack aircraft, 18 percent of its attack
helicopters, 12 percent of the U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and seven flexible and scalable Marine Expeditionary Units that provide crisis response.
According to the Defense Department, the Corps consisted of more than 176,000 enlisted personnel and more than 22,000 officers as of March.