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Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto at 241st Marine Corps Ball
November 7, 2016

MarineBallRemarks by Ambassador Hamamoto at 241st Marine Corps Ball

Château de Bossey Geneva
Saturday, November 5, 2016

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen!  On behalf of Ambassador Wood, Ambassador Punke and Ambassador Harper, I would like to offer my congratulations to our Marines as we celebrate the 241st Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Marines, I have been looking forward to your annual Ball, as it gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to the essential role you play at our Mission.  We are deeply grateful for the safety and security you provide, and we all appreciate your loyal service to our country.

No one can argue that we are living in extremely challenging times, so today, more than ever, the commitment and professionalism displayed by United States Marines enables us to do our jobs… and that holds true at all our diplomatic posts around the world.  You are an indispensable element of U.S. foreign policy!

I get a deep sense of pride every day when I see you faithfully watching over our Mission.  As a Marine, you are a breed apart, living life with intensity and a passion for excellence, and the formal, yet friendly, greeting I receive from you each morning as I walk past Post One, inspires me to do the same.

Our Marines are a tough bunch!  I know this firsthand because I see them working out in the gym from time to time.  And let’s be clear… I am the one who is only there from time to time… as you can see!

I used to think I was relatively fit, but I once made the mistake of trying to follow behind Sergeant Sanchez as she did the circuit of weight machines, thinking hmmm… we look about the same size…. well, that was a disaster!

I could barely do one rep of the weights she was lifting, so over and over, I had to move the pin up the stack of plates to lighten the load, until I got so demoralized that I went home in shame.  Now, if I go downstairs for a workout and see her in the gym, I sneak back up to my office and only return once I know she has departed.  So thank you for that, Sergeant Sanchez!

Anyway, knowing Marines are so tough, I have been wondering why they put up with those really unflattering nicknames??  Leatherneck!  Devil Dog!  Jarhead!  What’s up with that!?!?

Well, it finally dawned on me… they are probably willing to put up with those nicknames because, in exchange, they get to fly fancy planes with fancy names… like the F/A-18D Hornet, the F-35B Lightning and the CH-53E Super Stallion.  And they get to do really cool-sounding things… like Operation Island Viper.

And they sometimes get asked to do monumental things, like U.S. Marine First Lieutenant Emily Meyers singing God Bless America last week before the final game of the World Series, clearly paving the way for the Chicago Cubs to finally break their 108-year curse and win the championship!

I’m sure Sergeant Sanchez and Sergeant Antunez here tonight, both from the great state of Illinois, would agree with me, that First Lieutenant Meyers deserves all the credit!

But seriously…We’re here tonight to recognize the eleven outstanding Marines who are currently serving at our Mission in Geneva.  I already mentioned Sergeant Vicky Sanchez from Addison, Illinois and Sergeant Juan Antunez from South Elgin, Illinois.

I would also like to recognize:

Sergeant Dull from Bedford, Pennsylvania,

Sergeant Williams from Northport, Alabama,

Sergeant Kutscher from Sugarcreek, Ohio,

Sergeant Cox from Tallahassee, Florida,

Sergeant Lee from St. Paul, Minnesota,

Corporal Landon from Gaylord, Minnesota,

Corporal Hebert from Webster, New York, and

Corporal Lewinski from Toledo, Ohio.

And please give Corporal Lewinski a big round of applause for all the hard work he put into making this wonderful evening such a big success!

It is no secret that to Marines around the world, esprit de corps is not just a slogan; it’s a way of life!  And that’s certainly true for our Marines here in Geneva. Our Detachment is a well-trained, tight-knit, focused unit with high morale and the highest standards of excellence.

Without a doubt, this is due to the outstanding leadership of Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Delmont from Franklin, New Jersey.  Gunnery Sergeant Delmont, congratulations on your recent well-deserved promotion, and thank you very much for your leadership and the unwavering support you and your Detachment provide to our Mission.  You are a diamond in the rough and we thank you very much for your service!

Our Marines come to us having served in many countries around the world…Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Sudan, to name just a few.  They become part of our Mission community and we appreciate the support they provide each year for our 4th of July, Easter and Halloween celebrations, and their assistance with the many Secretary of State visits that we all enjoy.

And in addition to their “day jobs,” two of our Marines are currently enrolled in college, and three Marines are currently enrolled in French language classes. I understand they’ve become pretty good at saying “OOH-RAH” in French.

We are going to miss Sergeant Dull and Sergeant Williams, as they both will be leaving the Marine Corps to return home after more than five years of service – but once a Marine, always a Marine – and we know they will have great success in the future.  To our three new Marines, I want you to know that your service here will never be taken for granted, and we are so pleased to have you on our team.

To all of our guests here tonight, in between eating, drinking, and dancing, please take a moment to thank these Marines for all they do.

As you know, they are not just ordinary men and women…there is no better friend and no worse enemy than a United States Marine.  The United States of America is Home of the Free, Because of the Brave.

Father Kevin Keaney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain during the Korean War once said, “You cannot exaggerate about the Marines.  They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is… that they really are!”

Well, they may be ferocious fighters, but they are also kind and considerate, polite and friendly, warm-hearted and fun-loving, and extremely well-dressed!

Anthony…Tyler…Maxwell…Vicky…Jeremy…Leslie…Kong…Juan…James…Jacob…John, we are so glad that you are part of our Mission family, and tonight, we are here to honor you, and to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of all your fellow Marines.

Happy Birthday!  And SEMPER FIDELIS!