MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — The birth of the Navy began when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to outfit two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America.
Each ship was armed with 10 carriage and swivel guns, and approximately 80 crewmembers.
The Continental Congress also authorized a naval committee to supervise the mission.
Over the course of the War for Independence, the Continental Navy sent approximately 50 armed vessels to sea and successfully took over approximately 200 British ships.
Today, more than two centuries of heritage and history brought sailors and fellow service members together to celebrate the 235th Navy birthday at the annual Navy Birthday Ball held at Club Iwakuni here Oct. 15.
“It really is good to see all the sailors on the air station here at one time,” said Seaman Zachary Hallowood, corpsman with the Branch Health Clinic here. “It’s really cool to meet up in one place once a year and really feel that pride that being in the Navy gives us.”
The ceremony kicked off with homage to the colors.
Everyone in the room stood at attention as Hallowood and Seaman Amanda Snyder, corpsman with BHC, walked down the center of the audience with fellow sailors, carrying symbols of their unit and country; the Navy, American and Japanese flags with riflemen armed on each side.
According to Snyder, the color guard plays a significant role in traditional military ceremonies.
“The Navy has a tradition of pride and honor,” said Snyder, who participated as a rifleman in the color guard during the ceremony. “Being able to represent my nation, my Navy and my colors is a particular honor.”
“I represent the head rifleman on the color guard, and for us, it means protecting our colors,” she said. “It’s an additional symbolism of the position that we’re given of protecting our nation.”
After a short reminiscence of Navy heritage, the ceremonious dinner followed.
Hallowood not only held the honor of carrying the Japanese flag during the color guard ceremony but was also the youngest sailor at the ball.
Being the youngest sailor allowed Hallowood the opportunity to participate in the annual cake cutting ceremony.
“Being the youngest just means I was the youngest one to put my name on a piece of paper,” said Hallowood. “It just shows that in this nation, as a whole, it doesn’t matter what your age is because you’re contributing something to everyday life and the well being of others.”
According to Snyder, the youngest and oldest sailor participation in ceremonies has been a long-standing tradition in the Navy.
“It represents the new generation coming into the old traditions,” said Snyder. “What the older commanders, officers and enlisted personnel can teach us is all entailed in that one particular ceremony to represent every generation.”
The night was a celebration of not just history but history in the making as past and future generations joined together.
“I like what I represent,” said Snyder. “I’m a medic in the Navy and I like the fact that I am responsible for protecting my fellow sailors, fellow Marines, everybody that depends on each other to be able to go out and do their job.”
Today, the U.S. Navy employs approximately 600,000 active and reserve sailors and Navycivilians.
The branch stands strong with more than 3,700 aircraft, and more than 288 ships and submarines.
Originally published: Marines.mil