Washington, D.C. --
As the first of its kind, U.S. Marines and Sailors visited the city of Philadelphia to participate in Navy-Marine Corps Week, which took place from Oct. 9–15.
During Navy-Marine Corps Week, more than 120 Marines from various commands traveled to the Philadelphia-Camden region to support and assist in various events throughout the week. The services connected with the community through performances, ceremonies, and outreach programs. This occasion provided Marines a chance to convey their fundamental values of honor, courage, and commitment to the citizens of Philadelphia. Additionally, it was a time to showcase the Marine’s commitment to each other and, most importantly, the enduring commitment to being good stewards and citizens within the communities they serve.
During one of the most notable events, a remembrance ceremony was held for Marines who lost their lives in the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing. As the names of the nine Marines, all of whom were Philadelphia natives, were read aloud, echoes rang throughout the city from the battleship USS New Jersey, which fired her 5-inch guns, serving as a symbol of recognition for their ultimate sacrifice.
Upon the memorial lies the following inscription, “If you forget my death, then I died in vain.” The Marines demonstrated that, as a service, the Marine Corps holds an unwavering commitment to remembering those who laid down their lives – continuing the perseverance of the values held dear by those who came before them, ensuring that past sacrifices continue to inspire and guide future generations.
“Interacting with the local community with our gear and talking about what we do in our MOS opened the eyes of the public and gave a better appreciation towards what we do as Marines.”Lance Cpl. Mychael Combs, an assistant gunner and artillery Marine with 4th Marine Division
The remembrance ceremony was one of several events during Navy-Marine Corps Week commemorating the maritime services' history and legacy and the service members who made it all possible.
The Marine Corps legacy begins in Philadelphia. The Marine Corps came to fruition on Nov. 10, 1775, in a small Philadelphia tavern. Since then, its mission has remained constant: Making Marines, winning battles, and returning quality citizens. Philadelphia is significant in the Marine Corps legacy, with many traditions originating from its early presence. Notably, the Marine Corps ball and cake-cutting ceremony emerged from celebrations within the Philadelphia area and have since become enduring traditions at the Corps' annual celebration of its founding.
Marines stationed from across the East Coast took pride in participating in Navy-Marine Corps Week Philadelphia. It was a profound honor for them to give back to the city by sharing one of their cherished traditions - serving the American people. However, for some Marines, particularly native residents, this past week held a special significance. Cpl. Brindin Wilkus, an administrative specialist with Marine Helicopter Squadron One, was one such Marine who was eager to share his experience during the week.
Navy-Marine Week Philadelphia
Photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Dornfeld
U.S. Marines with the Silent Drill Platoon, Marine Barracks Washington, perform for the citizens of Philadelphia during Navy-Marine Week Philadelphia at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, P.A. on October 12, 2023. Marines are participating in numerous events throughout the city of Philadelphia to increase awareness and establish lasting relationships with communities throughout the area.
“Navy-Marine Corps Week Philadelphia was a great experience and opportunity to give back to the city I call home,” said Wilkus. “When joining the Marine Corps, I never thought a mission like this would arise, and I am grateful to have been selected to help give back to my community.”
Throughout the week, Wilkus actively participated in various activities, including the Penn’s Landing Cleanup, and engaging with patients at Philadelphia’s Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. What hit closest to home was being able to attend a football game at Northeast high school, the same school from which he graduated. He was honored as the football captain and conducted the coin flip on the field.
“Penn’s Landing was special to me growing up. My parents would take me there for 4th of July fireworks almost every year, so I was grateful for the chance to contribute back to an area that is special to me,” said Wilkus. “Also, engaging with patients from the VA was especially important to me because they have done so much for our country and protecting the American citizens…It was evident that it made their day better to talk with members currently serving.”
Navy-Marine Corps Week Philadelphia, established by the Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Carlos Del Toro, is designed to bring the Navy and the Marine Corps back to their birthplace and aims to demonstrate the services' institutional core values, educate and connect with the public, motivate potential new recruits, and showcase our maritime operational capabilities.
“Navy-Marine Corps Week Philadelphia was a great experience and opportunity to give back to the city I call home.”Cpl. Brindin Wilkus, an administrative specialist with HMX-1
The static displays of Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement and M777 howitzers played a crucial role in demonstrating the Marine Corps' mission and the Marines' proficiency in operating various vehicles and mission equipment. The Marines who supported these static displays did so voluntarily, driven by their desire to engage with the community and showcase the vehicles and equipment with which their reserve artillery battalion maintains at a high standard.
“Interacting with the local community with our gear and talking about what we do in our MOS opened the eyes of the public and gave a better appreciation towards what we do as Marines,” said Combs. “Showcasing our professionalism, knowledge, and friendly interactions brought a first-hand experience that most people will never get besides what they see on a screen.” Combs is an assistant gunner and artillery Marine with 4th Marine Division.
Navy-Marine Week Philadelphia
Photo by Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie
The Secretary of the Navy, Honorable Carlos Del Toro poses for a group photo with U.S. Marines supporting Navy-Marine Week Philadelphia following a ship naming ceremony at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on October 12, 2023. Marines are participating in numerous events throughout the city of Philadelphia in order to increase awareness and establish lasting relationships with communities throughout the area.
Alongside the week's various events, world-class performances were delivered by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and the 2d Marine Division Band. Known as "The Division's Own,” the band takes pride in its musical excellence and was eager to offer musical support for the Philadelphia community and visitors alike. Alongside the band was the Silent Drill Platoon, known for its global presence, which showcased the Marine Corps' exceptional skills and dedication to professionalism through its performances. These displays not only exemplified the Marines' talents but also allowed the community to appreciate the rich musical traditions and heritage of the Marine Corps.
According to Secretary of the Navy Del Toro, conducting a Navy-Marine Corps Week in Philadelphia was a precursor for what will be coming in 2025: the 250th birthdays of the Navy and Marine. Moreover, the 2023 Navy-Marine Corps Week facilitated the swift establishment of essential relationships required for effective planning, involving not only the Navy and Marine Corps but also various federal, state, and city agencies and non-governmental organizations.
This event served as a catalyst and planning preparation phase for the year 2025, the 250th anniversary of the Marine Corps, and the 100th anniversary of the 1st Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Therefore, the Marine Corps and the Navy are slated to return two years from now for their 250th birthday.