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Combined Marine Corps Birthday Ball big hit

19 Nov 2009 | Art Powell Public Affairs Specialist

Logistics Base Albany, Ga., and Marine Corps Logistics Command combined efforts for a Marine Corps Birthday Ball Saturday, at the James H. Gray Sr. Civic Center in Albany, Ga.

“We’re extremely pleased that we could get the base side and LOGCOM together, officer and enlisted, and celebrate our birthday,” said Brig. Gen. James A. Kessler, commanding general, LOGCOM. “This is the highlight of the year for us and we’re happy that we can celebrate our 234th birthday with Marines. But, just as important, we can share the celebration with the community.”

Base officials were pleased with the turnout for the event, which drew not just Marines of all ranks, but the local civilian leadership and veterans from around the region.

“This is an important night for Marines around the world and the turnout here is tremendous,” said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. “It shows us how much the community appreciates the work we do here at the base.”

More than 700 people attended the ball, and it was the largest such event held in years at the civic center.

“This is the largest full-service, catered event we’ve had here in more than three years,” said John T. Mazzola, director of the Albany James H. Gray Sr. Civic Center.

For many veterans, attending the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball is a regular event.

“We attend the ball every year,” said Dick French, director, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, who retired with 22 years of service in the Marine Corps. “This year is special because we have a son in the Marines and another is a civilian contractor to Marines in Afghanistan.”

One veteran in attendance was a B-17 pilot who was shot down during his 10th combat mission over Germany in World War II, and who spent time in a German prisoner-of-war camp.

“We’ve come to three or four of these and we always enjoy them,” said Crawford Hicks, now a retired attorney living in Warner Robins, Ga. “This is a warm place to be tonight, it feels like home.”

The German POW camp Hicks was at was liberated by a column of U.S. Army forces with the legendary Gen. George S. Patton in command.

Albany mayor Willie Adams was at the ball, which he always plans to attend.

“I’ve been mayor now for six years, and I think I’ve missed just one of these,” said Adams, who is a retired Army lieutenant colonel. “This is like family to me. I see a lot of friends and it’s really heart-warming.”

The pageantry at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball included a presentation of historical Marine Corps uniforms and a video message from the commandant of the Marine Corps before dining and dancing commenced.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany