Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. -- Marines have many traditions that distinguish the green warriors of the sea from other military services. Respected by friends and feared by enemies, Marines hold these traditions close to their hearts.
Noncommissioned officers here took part in a mess night May 9 to remember the Marines of the past and present and to pay tribute to the Headquarters Battalion sergeant major, 1st Sgt. Simmie F. Jackson.
Many of the Marines enjoyed the long time tradition of dining in, which can be traced back to the pre-Christ Roman legions. Roman military leaders often held extravagant banquets to honor commanders, victories and conquests. This tradition is later found in the early history of the nation when it was still a colony. The British military held formal dinners they called "guest nights."
As it was then and as it still is today, the purpose was to stimulate camaraderie and fellowship among the troops, enjoy food and drink and to honor their unit, Corps and country.
"Tonight has given many Marines the chance for fellowship, which is important," said Sgt. Samantha Graves, computer repair technician here.
This tradition was a first time experience for many of the NCOs.
"It is better than I expected," said Sgt. Deidra Chapman, a supply clerk here. "It was very entertaining and a lot more fun than I imagined."
The night may have been entertaining, but the Marines know that mess nights are a tradition that must be passed on.
"It is a good idea to remember Marine Corps tradition and learn about what the Marines before us did," said Cpl. Larry Alfonso, a dispatcher at the base's Garrison Mobile Equipment Branch.
Alfonso said he especially enjoyed the opportunity to hear the stories from other Marines that he may not have an opportunity to talk to otherwise. The ambience was jovial and festive, but the night turned to retrospection of the Corps.
Mess attendees took time to remember the Marines who fought and died through out the country's history. They toasted to the Marines, who earned the nickname of "Teufel Hunden" or "devil dog" from the Germans during the battle of Belleau Wood of World War I, to the leathernecks who fought in Korea from Inchon to the Chosin Reservoir, to those protecting the country from terrorism in Afghanistan and throughout the world today.
One of the evening's highlights was when Jackson spoke to mess night attendees. The first sergeant spoke of the importance of honor, courage and commitment. He challenged NCOs to hold the values and the standards of the Corps to themselves and their Marines, and he stressed the importance of integrity and the consequences of losing it.
"I will take a thief over a liar any day," said Jackson. "You know a thief is going to steal, but you don't know what a liar is going to do."
Jackson asked the Marines to carry on the traditions and spirit of the Marine Corps in the future and to lead their junior Marines in the right path.
"Help your Marines," said Jackson, who will retire in a post and relief ceremony June 14. "Don't be so quick to punish. Instead, pick them up and lead them onto the right path."
Mess night attendees presented Jackson with an NCO sword in gratitude for his participation in the mess night. The sword bid Jackson a fond farewell and quoted his saying, "This is a promise, not a threat."