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 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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 Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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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.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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