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Wed, March 20

Ball marks Marine Corps' 240th birthday

Sharp uniforms and sparkly dresses were the order of the evening as The Marine Corps League Copper State Detachment 906 celebrated the Corps' 240th birthday Sunday, Nov. 8, with a ball at Prescott Resort and Conference Center.

The ball - held here a few days in advance of the Corps' Nov. 10 birthday - happens all over the world, Copper State Detachment 906 Commandant Bob Wallace explained.

"Every Marine around the world will have a chance to have a piece of birthday cake," he said.

The birthday message from Gen. Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, reads in part: "As we celebrate the 240th birthday of our Corps, we pay tribute to all who have served and we remember our fallen heroes. We take great pride in our legacy and in the fine men and women who carry our colors into the future. And we extend heartfelt thanks to our families for their steadfast support."

Music was provided by the Geritol Hipsters, northern Arizona's premier Dixieland band. The band is made up of Ed Cornett on drums, leader Bill West on trumpet, Hardy Rose on clarinet, Bill Bowers on trombone, Doug Keller on keyboard, Steven Ayers on bass and Natalie Krol on vocals. Among them, they have 450 years of musical experience, Cornett said.

Col. Eric Lewis was the evening's guest of honor. Lewis, now an adjunct professor of international business and consultant for global logistics, was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on May 27, 1967. He retired from the Marine Corps July 1, 1991.

The Granite Mountain Young Marines presented the colors before the official ceremonial cutting of the cake. The oldest Marine present, 97-year-old Marion Branch, who fought at Iwo Jima, passed the first slice to youngest Marine Cpl. Betz, 32.

After they both declared the cake "fit for human consumption," it was wheeled back out to be cut and distributed to guests.

Follow Arlene Hittle on Twitter @ahittle_dc. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2036, or 928-830-2928.

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