Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Robert S. Britt, gives Marines and sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Camp Pendleton, Calif., the royal treatment during a special birthday dinner aboard USS Tarawa for those born in December. Food service specialists aboard USS Tarawa cooked teriyaki steak, lobster tails, crab legs, rice pilaf, grilled asparagus and double baked potatoes with melted cheese. The meal that included cake and ice cream and drinks were served by senior staff noncommissioned officers and officers as a way to show their appreciation for junior Marines and sailors. Britt is with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 11th MEU (SOC).

Photo by Sgt. Bryson K. Jones

Leaders give Marines, sailors VIP birthday treatment

21 Dec 2007 | Staff Sgt. Sergio Jimenez

Some of the Marines and sailors seemed taken aback at first by the royal treatment the swarm of senior staff noncommissioned officers and officers were giving them during their special "December birthdays" meal. Most young Marines had never seen a sergeant major serving dinner with such zeal. Or heard a 1st sergeant ask, “Can I refill your glass with water? Or, how about some bread?”

 Half-way through the teriyaki steak however, most started to unwind. The sincerity of their leaders put them at ease and soon their timid thank you’s turned into “Yes, 1st sergeant, thank you, but I’ll have some tea instead.”

 Fancy wine glasses were topped off swiftly and smiles and pleasantries exchanged. The lobster tails, crab legs were proclaimed delicious and the double baked potatoes with melted cheese was said to be divine. It caused a young hospital to corpsman remark, that even at his home, he’s never had it quite this fine. On most days grunts would say to him, “Hey Doc, treat this?” Tonight, he said one offered him cake and ice cream as a treat.

 But since Marines never cut a cake without a ceremony, the MEU created one that was slightly different and shorter than the rest. There was no message from the commandant, no band, no long formations or locked-kneed Marines falling out. It was friendly and meant as fun.

 With tongue-in-cheek, Lt. Col. Shawn W. McKee, read from astrology, and told everyone that those born in December are Sagittarians or Capricorns.

 Capricorns make goals and work long and hard to reach them, and are self-disciplined and successful in what they do, he said.

 Sagittarians love travel and adventure. They like to walk and at sports many excel, he said. Some look around to friends and gesture that the colonel’s descriptions fit them well.

 As the meal winds down, it becomes plain to see, that Marines and sailors born in December are also smart. Many quickly realized they must enjoy the moment while it lasts, because they may never have a day like this again.

 *For more information about the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, please visit their website at

Marine Corps News

Colonel James W. Lively
Commanding Officer

Colonel Lively is a native of Dallas, Texas. He received his commission in 1996 through the Platoon Leaders Course program after graduating from Texas A&M University with a BA in Psychology.

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Lieutenant Col. Le E. Nolan
Executive Officer

Lieutenant Colonel Nolan is a 2001 graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his commission through Officer Candidate Class 180. After completing flight training as a CH-53E pilot, he reported to HMH-361 in MCAS Miramar.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit