ABOARD USS PELELIU (March 4, 2006) -- A Marine with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Camp Pendleton, Calif., celebrated her 24th birthday while crossing the Equator aboard the USS Peleliu March 4 during the 11th MEU's six-month deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
More than a dozen fellow command element Marines, including the MEU's commanding officer, executive officer and sergeant major, crowded into the administration work section to sing happy birthday to Cpl. Trisha L. Rodriguez, food service specialist. The Marines shared a piece of cake with Rodriguez, who is considered by many in the MEU as a hard working and all-around good Marine and good person.
Rodriguez cut a cake that was made for her by her fellow food service specialists. Rodriguez thanked the Marines for going out of their way to make her birthday special, as this would be the last birthday she would celebrate as an active duty Marine. She will be leaving the Marine Corps in eight months.
After the party, Rodriguez went out the side of the ship to look out over the Western Pacific Ocean in search of the elusive floating "Golden Buoy" that marks the location of the Equator.
Rodriguez, along with hundreds of other shipmates who were standing lookout, some of whom were on ship for the first time, were not able to catch a glimpse of the mysterious buoy. Many, were left speculating that the "Golden Buoy" may be nothing more than a ruse to make fun of the "newbys" aboard the ship. Some shipboard veterans just chuckled when asked if the buoy really exists.
Rodriguez said she didn't care if the buoy exists, because she was glad just to get out into the sunlight for a few minutes to enjoy one of the most memorable birthdays of her life.