USMC to celebrate 248th Birthday Ball in Brownsville on Saturday

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The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. flag are presented during a USMC Birthday Ball. (Courtesy photo)

The 248th U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Ball will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the Rio Event Center in Brownsville.

The gala event is being held in Brownsville to honor Brownsville resident Bill Morgenroth, a retired Marine and World War II veteran who served in the famous battle of Iwo Jima and was there when the Marines raised the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi.

Morgenroth, 100, has a vivid memory of WW II, Japan’s surrender and life in the United States during the second half of the 20th century and beyond. He has lived in Brownsville since the 1980s. The event is being held here so that he doesn’t have to travel far or late.

The Birthday Ball is one of the biggest events on the Marine Corps calendar. It is a chance to get dressed to the nines, enjoy an evening of tradition, and celebrate the history of the corps.

Tickets for Saturday’s event are available at the door for $65 per person, which includes the meal, cake cutting ceremony, dance with DJ Fasci and more, said Laura Serna Marquez, a USMC veteran and Birthday Ball executive director and coordinator.

The event is being held in Brownsville to accommodate Morgenroth, who will be the oldest Marine during the cake cutting ceremony, a traditional part of birthday ball celebrations around the world to honor Nov. 10, 1775, the day the Continental Congress established the corps.

Doors open at 6 p.m., the cocktail hour starts at 7 p.m. and the cake cutting ceremony begins at 8 p.m. sharp. There will be door prizes, a silent auction and more.

The mission of Saturday’s event is to bring together Valley veterans, active-duty military and their families and provide an opportunity to network with one another and to learn about the resources available to them, Serna Marquez said.

All veterans, active-duty military, dependents, spouses, and widows of service members and the public are invited to attend, she said.

From her own experience serving veterans and as a veteran herself, Serna Marquez said the veteran population in the Valley is “underserved and not recognized unless we wear a cap or a sticker on our car.”

“There are lots of resources available to our veterans, but so many won’t learn about these services unless we come together all in one place. I also believe it is time to come together for camaraderie. Our traditions, history and Esprit de Corps are part of our Marine Corps service and even after as veterans,” she said.

She also expressed appreciation to the city of Brownsville for its cooperation and assistance in holding the event at the Rio Event Center, located at 1800 N. Expressway.