The Marine Corps ball with Ronda Rousey: It's 'going to be crazy'
The Marine Corps birthday ball is a spectacle every year, a celebration of the military branch's founding more than 200 years ago. In recent years, some Marines have even tried to invite celebrities, such as actress Mila Kunis, who showed up as one Marine's date in 2011. This year, the newfound tradition goes on. Marine Lance Cpl. Jarrod Haschert asked his celebrity crush, the unstoppable mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey, to the upcoming Marine Corps 240th birthday ball with a video.
Rousey responded — with an enthusiastic yes in a video posted to the website TMZ.com, and no one was more surprised than Haschert himself.
"When it happened, I didn't know how to contain myself," said Haschert in a phone interview from his barracks at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he serves in 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, an infantry unit in which Haschert serves in the mortar section. In 2004, the battalion participated in the battle of Fallujah and has deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 15 years.
While Haschert hasn't talked to Rousey directly, he has been in touch with "her people." Originally she was worried about a scheduling conflict with an upcoming fight, but the fight was moved and now she is free and clear to partake in Marine Corps birthday activities.
Haschert has been in the Marines for a little more than two and half years. He'd deployed once to the Pacific spent a stint with another Camp Lejeune unit, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. He has had a crush on Rousey since his senior year of high school when "she started to get big," he says.
At 22 and as seasoned lance corporal of Marines, this upcoming birthday ball is not his first.
"The ball is going to be crazy," Haschert said, referring to the attention he and Rousey will surely get. "I was hoping we could spend some time during the day together to just talk and hang out or whatever."
Haschert is right about one thing: the birthday ball will be crazy. Even without celebrities in attendance, the ball is the highlight of the year for most Marines, unless that is, EASing (military speak for ending active service). The gathering is a Marine Corps tradition in keeping with the Marines' founding on Nov. 10, 1775 when two companies of sea-faring warfighters were recruited in order to support ship-to-ship fighting during the Revolutionary War.
Recently, the ball usually means a four-day weekend in conjunction with Veteran's Day and is usually held in a convention center a few hours from base. Haschert says the ball will be somewhere in South Carolina.
Haschert is trying to figure out his transportation to the ball and is considering a limo from the hotel to the convention center.
"My friends can't believe it," he said. "My phone has been blowing up from people I haven't talked to since middle school."
At the ball, Marines are clad in full dress uniform, known as dress blues, and start the evening off by watching the Marine Corps birthday message — usually in video form — delivered by the current commandant of the Marine Corps. This is in keeping with a tradition started in 1921 by "the greatest of all Leathernecks" 13th commandant Gen. John A. Lejeune. After that there is a cake cutting by the oldest and youngest Marine of the battalion and then, of course, some dancing.