Traditionally the ceremony of cutting the cake was done with a “Mamaluke Sword.” The oldest Marine cut the cake, and the first portion went to the honored guest. The second piece was served to the oldest Marine who “passed the torch” to the youngest.
OUR honored guest was an M-16 with a bayonet stuck in the ground. Topped with a helmet and a pair of boots beneath, the first slice of cake was placed in front of the boots. Top Culverhouse said, “We honor the fallen — Semper Fidelis.”
This symbolism was playing out at every Marine Corps installation around the globe. Some were attending a Ball in Dress Blues, and others were marching in parades. Combat bases with Marines in jungle utilities were all eating cake. Either way, it put a lump in your throat and was a somber experience.
Reb was critical of the frosting and commented on it being too greasy, “It has the wrong ratio of shortening.” His assessment was refreshing to me, and I thought the instructors in baking school would agree. We didn’t have the luxury of high speed mixers. Everything was done by hand with elbow grease and in small batches. Mass production sacrificed quality.
At our weekly meeting in the Staff hooch, the Gunny asked about any worries or issues from the section heads. I was concerned about our new OP being cramped. With all four of us in such a small space, a B-40 could take us all out. He promised to check on it in the morning.