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An excursion of Marines and civilians with Marine Corps Systems Command and Program Executive Officer Land Systems on motorcycles en route to the National Museum of the Marine Corps Nov. 9 aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. MCSC hosted a cake-cutting event, ceremonial motorcycle ride and Toys for Tots Drive to observe the 245th birthday of the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by David Jordan)

Photo by MCSC_OPAC

MCSC celebrates Corps’ birthday with cake-cutting, toy donations and a motorcycle ride

10 Nov 2020 | Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop Marine Corps Systems Command from celebrating the Corps’ heritage and proud traditions.

In early November, MCSC held a series of activities to observe the 245th birthday of the Marine Corps—including a cake-cutting ceremony, motorcycle ride and Toys for Tots Drive. Adhering to social distancing guidelines, these events allowed the command to celebrate the occasion while also providing comradery and some holiday magic for underprivileged families.

“This global pandemic has made our jobs more difficult, but we have to take the time to break bread, to celebrate and recognize what is really important to us,” said Brig. Gen. A.J. Pasagian, MCSC commander.

MCSC finding new ways to celebrate

On Nov. 10, 1775, Capt. Samuel Nicholas set up a recruiting headquarters at the Tun Tavern on Water Street in Philadelphia, establishing the U.S. Marine Corps to augment naval forces during the Revolutionary War. For decades, the Marine Corps has traditionally celebrated its birthday with various festivities, including a Birthday Ball.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the command from hosting a Birthday Ball. However, on Nov. 6, MCSC still had a ceremonial cake-cutting at its location aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James Geurts, who was slated to be the Birthday Ball guest of honor, took part in the ceremony.

The ASN-RDA commended the MCSC workforce for their efforts during a pandemic.

“Providing acquisition support during the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly hard,” Geurts said to the socially distanced crowd. “What is amazing is you didn’t just meet the mission—you crushed it. You found the opportunity and didn’t get stymied by the challenge.”

Geurts ended his speech by imploring the workforce continue persevering through challenges in the months and years ahead.

“We can’t let challenges stop us, and we need to be smart, adapt and overcome,” said Geurts. “We have a huge amount of challenges ahead of us, and I’m confident you will be up to those challenges if you stay sharp and focused.”

On Nov. 9, MCSC’s Motorcycle Program sponsored an 11-mile roundtrip motorcycle ride from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia. Pasagian, MCSC Sgt. Maj. Michael Cato, MCSC Chief of Staff Col. Michael Manning and nearly 40 riders participated in the excursion. The riders were escorted by motorcycle detail from the Prince William County Police Department.

“To our Marines, I say Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis,” said Pasagian, at the conclusion of the ceremonial ride. “Oorah.”

Toys for Tots: A Marine Corps tradition

The Toys for Tots Drive allowed ride participants and onlookers to donate toys and support area families during the holidays. Gunnery Sgt. Minton Smith, of MCSC’s Program Manager for Communications, spoke about the history of Toys for Tots and how the Marine Corps has helped provide holiday cheer to millions of families for many years.

“This is truly something to behold—seeing a group of elite individuals like Marines, who are widely known as one of the world’s fiercest, greatest fighting forces, taking the time out of their day to do something as charitable as collect toys for the less fortunate,” said Smith. “It’s a blessing to be able to experience that.”

Pasagian thanked all participants in the motorcycle ride and those who donated to the Toys for Tots Drive. He ended the event by commending the command for their efforts during a difficult year, and thanked all Marines for their dedication throughout the years.

“Being a Marine comes from the Eagle, Globe and Anchor that is tattooed on the soul of every one of us who wears the Marine Corps uniform,” said Pasagian, referring to the Marine Corps emblem. “The Eagle, Globe and Anchor only grows more defined, more intense the longer you are a Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

For more information about MCSC’s Toys for Tots Drive, please contact Gunnery Sgt. Paul Echeverria at For a list of nearby Toys for Tots donation centers, please visit

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