Other stories

Avenal prison staff honor Veterans Day, Marine Corps birthday with cakes

A decorated cake has the words Happy 245th Birthday Marine Corps.
a cake celebrating the Marine Corps' birthday was cut in a special ceremony at Avenal State Prison.

By Lt. James Campbell

Avenal State Prison Correctional Lt. and former Marine John Mendiboure continued an annual tradition of honoring the institutions’ veterans by holding a cake-cutting ceremony in the snack bar. 

The tradition was started five years ago by Correctional Sgt. Michael Mendoza, who also served in the Marine Corps. At the cake cutting, they honored the Marine Corps 245th Birthday. 

A Veterans Day cake is decorated with the U.S. flag.
A special Veterans Day cake was shared by staff at Avenal State Prison.

Traditionally, regardless of location, Marines pause to observe their birthday by sharing a cake and a holiday meal.

A sword is used to cut the cake as a reminder that the Marine Corps are a band of warriors, committed to carrying the sword, so that our nation may live in peace.

Correctional Sgt. and former Marine Rudolph Cortez cut the cakes with a Marine Corps non-commissioned officer’s sword.  The first piece of cake is traditionally presented to the guest of honor.

This year’s guest of honor was to be Sgt. Mendoza, who recently retired after 38 years of service to the department. Unfortunately, a prior commitment prevented Mendoza from attending. 

The second piece of cake is presented to the oldest Marine in the command, signifying the honor and respect accorded to experience and seniority. The oldest Marine is Investigative Services Unit Correctional Officer Alejandro Cortez.

Symbolically, the eldest Marine present passes a piece of cake to the youngest Marine present, just as for years our experienced Marines have nurtured and led young Marines that will fill our ranks and renew our Corps. The youngest Marine present was Correctional Officer Xavier Martinez.

Learn more about the Marine Corps’ birthday and the origins of Veterans Day.