San Joaquin Valley Marine veterans and active officers and men celebrated the Corps’ 153rd Anniversary Thursday with a breakfast in the Spring Creek Country Club dining room.
The event was hosted by Ripon’s Chuck Roots, pastor of the Free Will Methodist Church, Marine Corps veteran and U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain with the rank of Captain.
Guest speaker Major General Mike Myatt drew the immediate respect and attention of his audience as he talked about the ethics and the morale of those who served under him and those who came before and after.
Myatt said he once thought those suffering from post-traumatic syndrome were just a bunch of sissies who couldn’t take the pressure. But, it’s real, he said, admitting that he too had been diagnosed with PTS.
He recalled that after 9-11 there were more than two million men who signed up to defend their country. The General added that only 25 percent of the nation’s men and women are eligible to join up and able to meet the demanding criteria.
Northern California is exceptional for its service, he said. One in nine on the Memorial Wall from service in Iraq and Afghanistan are from the north state.
“I’m proud I had the opportunity to meet the youngest generation,” he said.
A Stanislaus County police officer, Steve Jacobson, recognized General Myatt’s signature on his Navy Commendation award with a Combat V for valor he had received for service in Desert Storm in 1991. He attended the breakfast Thursday and brought his certificate with him to have a picture taken with the general.
General Myatt served two combat tours in Vietnam first as a platoon and company commander with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. He was assigned as an infantry battalion advisor to the 5th Battalion in his second tour in Vietnam.
The General ceremoniously cut the Marines’ birthday cake and handed a piece to an 88-year-old veteran in the audience – the oldest present. He then, in turn, gave a similar piece to a 32-year-old Marine veteran – the youngest present. The layers of the cake were red, white and blue.
The Ripon High School JROTC unit had two drill teams perform for the breakfast – one armed unit of girls in a synchronized routine – and the second a unit of boys with M-1 rifles that they handled with precision.
General Myatt commanded the 1st Marine Division during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991. His division defeated seven Iraqi Army divisions in zone, seized Kuwait International Airport and liberated Kuwait City.
The General retired from the Corps in 1995 to work for Bechtel Corporation. While working for Bechtel, he managed the $22 billion construction project to build the Korean High Speed Rail from Seoul to Pusan.
General Myatt was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering Electronics from the Naval Post Graduate School.
He was selected to be the President and CEO of the Marines’ Memorial Association in 2001.