Pilot story and photos

by Joseph Friedrichs

When it comes to cutting a cake, a Marine doesn't mess around.

At the 230th Anniversary of the Marine Corps Birthday Ball Saturday night, spectators got to witness this fact firsthand.

Using a military sword, Capt. Jason Matthews, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps inspection and instruction staff from Eugene, cut the massive birthday cake during the ball. The sword was far from the average butter knife, measuring nearly 3 feet.

The annual celebration for the Marine Corps was in the Elks Lodge. The event lasted nearly six hours and was hosted by the Marine Corps League, Coos-Curry Detachment 578.

The birthday ball serves as a fundraiser for Toys for Tots, with all proceeds going to provide Christmas presents for children in the community that might not otherwise receive gifts. About $1,000 was raised for the Toys for Tots program.

During the ball, the late Cal Murphy, former chief of staff for the Northwest Division, was honored.

Bob Gilmore, the junior past commandant of the Department of Oregon Marine Corps League and Coos-Curry Detachment 578, said Murphy was an andquot;extra special person who made everyone around him better.andquot;

This year's birthday ball also included surprise awards for three Curry County residents who were recognized for above-and-beyond service to the community.

Richard and Kathy Sloniker, along with Barbara Cleland, were honored this year.

The awards are presented each year during the ceremony honoring the Four Chaplains: two protestant ministers, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi, aboard the USS Dorchester during World War II, who chose to give up their life jackets and go down with their ship.

Following a dinner that included choice of prime rib, salmon or chicken, Fred Pate, commandant of the Department of Oregon Marine Corps League and Coos-Curry Detachment 578 introduced honored guests at the ball, including State Rep. Wayne Kreiger; Bob Hagbom, former mayor of Brookings; and Master Chief John Dunn of the United States Coast Guard.

Former military personnel of all branches were asked to stand as their branch song was played.

Gilmore reminded the guests as they prepared for a moment of silence for all of the men and women who are serving today, andquot;Remember, freedom is not free.andquot;