MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC --
Air Station aviation ordnance Marines celebrated their 88th birthday aboard the Air Station, April 22 and 23. The Marines enjoyed a barbecue and days of fun and fellowship.
Aviation ordnance Marines, active and retired, gather every year to celebrate April 25, 1922, the day the job field was created. They are the only Marines who celebrate the creation of their specialty, according to retired Gunnery Sgt. Dale Tendley, president of the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen Chapter 39 and the Air Station’s explosive safety officer.
“It is a time for Marines of all eras to get together and share the experience and gain camaraderie,” said retired Maj. James Churchman, a retired aviation ordnance Marine. “I get to see Marines I have known for 50 years on our birthday.”
According to Tendly, a year’s worth of fund-raising goes into the celebration so all ordnancemen can enjoy the events for free. Fliers were handed out all over the Southeast to let retired ordnance Marines know the date and location.
“This is a birthday for all of us to share,” Tendley said.
Ordnancemen kicked off the celebration with events that included a golf tournament, annual social, field meet and barbecue.
The golf tournament, held April 22, had approximately 33 four-man teams. The tournament had a shotgun start, raffles and free food. The event offered fun for the golfers and their families.
After the tournament, the annual social was held at Burners aboard the Air Station. It was a time for the Marines to socialize with one another about the past, present and future of their Military Occupational Specialty as well eating and enjoying themselves.
“We relive the past and bring it to the present every year,” said retired Master Sgt. Rodney McFadden, now the range control officer for the Air Station and vice-president of the AAO. “Every year, we have a moment of silence for our lost aviation ordnancemen. This year, we lost 10 of our brothers.”
The celebration ended with a field meet and barbecue, April 23. The food this year was prepared primarily by the celebrations honorary pig roaster, McFadden.
Ordnancemen from all of the squadrons squared off on the grass, concrete and sand. The Marine spirit was evident in all competitors. The smiling faces, cheers and laughter could be heard from everywhere. The afternoon featured horse shoes, basketball, volleyball and the destruction of a vehicle.
Led by Gunnery Sgt. James Walker, the munitions chief with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31, Fightertown Marines released a wave of destruction on the defenseless vehicle, but the major milestone of the afternoon was the crowning of this Lowcountry Aviation Ordnanceman of the Year.
This year’s winner was Sgt. Andrew Clark, the line chief for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115.
The Marine Corps is built on keeping standards and traditions of its past alive. The aviation ordnance 88th birthday celebration is one example of Marines keeping true to a tradition that makes them proud to be aviation ordnancemen.