In each period of the history of man, one elite fighting force has stood out as superior to all others. The superior efforts of Sparta, the Roman legions, the French Foreign Legion and the British Royal Navy in its prime, come to mind. The U.S. Marine Corps clearly stands out as the premier fighting force of the current age.
Each year Marines, wherever stationed in the world, join together on Nov. 10 to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our Corps, to reflect upon our proud tradition, pay tribute to our fallen comrades, relive past glories and instill a spirit in the new Marines to carry on our proud tradition--earning our nation's trust.
This year, Marines commemorate the 212th year of service to this country, service that began during and for the Revolutionary War. Although we continually ensure that the bonds that bind us together as a team are strong, we strengthen those bonds even more as we pause once a year to honor that spirit that gains its strength from the complete confidence in each other's abilities, loyalty and perseverance under the most adverse circumstances. That intangible assurance that any other Marine can be depended upon like a brother we call esprit de corps.
Southern California has played a significant role throughout much of our history in providing unmatched training ground upon which Marines have honed their combat skills. After initial training, significant numbers of Marines are stationed for three or four years in Southern California, primarily at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms. Marines have always been a force in readiness, ready to depart with very little advance notice. We expect to be, along with predesignated naval forces, the first units committed to any conflict. We're ready. Our national leaders, the American public and, perhaps most important, our potential adversaries expect us to succeed. They won't be disappointed. The highest measure of the capability of a force may well be that conflict and aggressive actions or intents of other nations are deterred as a result of the mere presence of our force nearby.
Marine Corps units deploy from Southern California on a regular basis. At this very moment some Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Orange County are deployed while others are getting ready to. These include an all weather attack squadron and a composite helicopter squadron on carriers in the Western Pacific, and another helicopter squadron deployed to Okinawa. Other smaller units are currently deployed to more troublesome spots on the globe.
A fighting force as successful as the Marine Corps can be successful only when it is supported by the society it is intended to defend: by mothers and fathers willing to allow their sons and daughters to enter military service, by a society willing to fund for national defense, and by a local community where bases and air stations are located.
A local community that willingly assists in fulfilling the needs of the service members aboard the bases and stations, and perhaps more important, helping to provide support for their families, is a necessity. The Marine Corps' primary asset is people, and these people have community needs and desires that are less easily fulfilled when a family moves every two to three years. Many families are far from that part of the country in which they are most comfortable. These families have unique concerns, such as education and the safety of loved ones, particularly when one family member is not present because of a deployment in defense of our nation, and sometimes not knowing when the absence will end.
Orange County provides the support we need in this often unpopular endeavor. Community leaders, police, schools, friendly people, concerned civic groups, national organizations with county chapters, and others too numerous to list, collectively contribute enormously to the success of Marines and the national defense.
Of course, there are occasional differences of opinion between our institution and some of those mentioned above. But these have always been resolved through a great spirit of cooperation and intelligent dialogue. No individual half a globe away from his or her family can operate at 100% effectiveness if they have to constantly worry about the welfare of the family left behind. Thanks in large part to Orange County, Southern California Marines do operate at 100% effectiveness on deployment. Orange County is a great place to live and work, and family safety is not a great concern.
If you spot an extremely proud citizen with a short haircut Tuesday, chances are good he's a Marine. Wish him or her a happy birthday. On the occasion of our birthday, I speak for all Orange County Marines in thanking all communities and people of this county for your sustaining and valuable support, and for being an important part of that esprit de corps. Orange County is part of our tradition. Well done.