2012 MCA&F Ground Awards Dinner

Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 18:00 to 21:00

MCA hosted the 9th Annual Ground Awards Dinner on Thursday, 28 June 2012 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.  Co-hosted by HQMC Plans, Policies and Operations (PP&O) Division, the dinner served as the opportunity to recognize the professional achievements of the top performing officers and enlisted Marines in the ground community during 2011 and featured LtGen Dennis J. Hejlik, Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Command; Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic; Commander, United States Marine Corps Bases Atlantic; Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Europe as the guest speaker and senior awards presenter.

The dinner and awards presentation was preceded by a no-host social hour and VIP reception for award recipients, families, award sponsors and General Officers.  Dinner guests were summoned to the banquet hall at the conclusion of the receptions and observed a presentation of the colors ceremony with a color guard from Marine Barracks Washington and were serenaded by the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps.

Dinner Guests


Color Guard Presentation

Drum & Bugle Corps

MajGen Edward Usher, MCA&F President & CEO

MCA&F President and Chief Operating Officer, MajGen Edward G. Usher was introduced by SgtMaj Kevin Bennett, USMC (Ret) the association’s Quantico Area Representative.  MajGen Usher then welcomed the guests, acknowledged the association’s members, award sponsors, award recipients and their families and also acknowledged the many General Officers in attendance.  Turning briefly to the evening’s guest speaker, he mentioned that the Leftwich Trophy was one of the awards to be presented during the evening and that he was especially gratified LtGen Hejlik, the 1985 recipient of the award, was on hand to present it to the 2011 recipient.  He also acknowledged the other Leftwich Trophy recipients in attendance during the evening which brought a strong round of applause from the guests.  Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, USN, Caplain of the Marine Corps took the stage and gave the dinner invocation. The guests then settled down to a great meal including a monumental cut of New York Strip Steak.

Chaplain’s Invocation

Following Dinner, SgtMaj Bennett again took the stage and introduced LtGen Richard Tryon, Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies & Operations (PP&O) who took the stage to introduce the guest speaker.

LtGen Tryon acknowledged General James Jones, former Commandant of the Marine Corps and pointed out that Gen Jones had been instrumental in developing the concept for the Ground and Ground Awards Dinners.  He also recognized SgtMaj Carlton Kent, the previous Sgt Maj of the Marine Corps, a host of Generals and captains of industry in attendance and thanked MCA&F for support in hosting the dinner.

LtGen Tryon

LtGen’s Tryon & Hejlik

Turning to more substantive comments, LtGen Tryon observed that this was a great day.  Earlier the Montford Point Marines had finally been recognized for their service with the presentation of their replica Congressional Gold Medals at a joyous ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, and the day was concluding with the Ground Awards Dinner conducted to recognize some tremendous Marine leaders.  He acknowledged all of the award recipients and then turned to the matter of introducing LtGen Hejlik.

He got a laugh from the audience when noting that LtGen Hejlik hailed from the thriving metropolis of Hancock, Iowa. He then quipped “Oh, I see many in the audience are familiar with Hancock” which brought even more laughter.  Turning to LtGen Hejlik’s Marine Corps career he said that when get got his draft notice he immediately enlisted in the Marines and that LtGen Hejlik’s wife had mentioned that the draft notice was the only lotto that “Denny” had ever won which brought more laughter.  He then flashed a series of pictures on the big screens in the banquet hall of LtGen Hejlik’s early days as a Marine in boot camp and shortly thereafter.  He said it must be disquieting to know that one of his uniforms was actually on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and that shortly after graduating from recruit training, LtGen Hejlik had been sent to the brig.  After a suspenseful pause, he added that he was sent there to be a “Chaser” which brought more laughter. After teasing him about the pictures of LtGen Hejlik with a full head of hair, he opined that he must have served under “Relaxed” grooming standards which also amused the audience. He then pointed out that LtGen Hejlik had indeed had a very event filled career, had commanded Marines at every level and rank, had stood up Marine Special Operations and was a Leftwich Trophy recipient.

LtGen Hejlik Onstage

Guest speaker presentation

LtGen Hejlik took the stage and wistfully stated that he wished he had that hair from the photos now.  After the usual acknowledgements he indicated that LtGen Tryon had asked him to speak about the universal truths about the infantry.  He mentioned that he had just read a biography of a WW-I leader who rose to be a General and observed that a lot of the technology and concerns from that era from almost a hundred years ago are still present.  Much was the same with the presence of infantry weapons fundamentally unchanged, tanks, airplanes, poison gas and related items.  One key factor that also remained was the ferocity and determination of Marines to prevail in combat.  That did not change with time and remained as an enduring constant through WW-II and into the Korean Conflict, which saw the introduction of the helicopter.  Moving closer to the present, he observed that some things did change with the Vietnam conflict.  Specifically he mentioned the ever present and in-your-face media with which Marines now have to deal with as a matter of course. He also mentioned the adverse public reaction to the war and the hostility with which Marines had to contend back at home as a result of the war.  He said that one positive impact this had was to help develop a stronger sense of resilience in Marines in the face of the media induced hostility and that was a good thing.

Further into the future, with the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operations, he noted that another new development was the rapid cascade of high tech developments and weaponry which included the advent and rapid expansion of social media available to Marines now and that they operated in the shadow of that factor. The development allowed Marines close and frequent contact with family back home even from remote Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan and seriously helps with morale and fosters determination in the Marines serving there.

Further on the theme of technology contributing to Marine resilience,  he stated that Marines had been operating with one foot in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and that resilience and determination helped accommodate these two sizable challenges simultaneously.  Now Marines face two similar large challenges with one foot in Afghanistan, with its challenging requirements while they also face the requirement to deal with the draw down the force as an organization while also modernizing. He opined that Marine resilience made the Corps the organization of “Yes” and that flexibility, adaptability, determination and resilience, the universal truths of Marine combat infantrymen are what will carry the day through the .

Following the guest speaker’s remarks, the following awards were presented with LtGen Hejlik along with LtGen Tryon, Division Commanders (or their representative) and award sponsors assisting in the presentations.  The following awards were presented:           

2011 Marine of the Year Award – 1st Marine Division – Sponsored by Battelle and MCA&F – LCpl Daniel Godina    

LCpl Daniel Godina– 1st MarDiv MOY

2011 Marine of the Year Award – 2d Marine Division – Sponsored by L-3 and MCA&F - Sgt Jeremy D. Butler  

Sgt Butler – 2d MarDiv MOY

2011 Marine of the Year Award – 3d Marine Division – Sponsored by ITT, Excelis and MCA&F - Sgt Jeffrey T. Majka             

Sgt Majka with Award

2011 Marine of the Year Award – 4th Marine Division – Sponsored by General Dynamics and MCA&F - Sgt Brian A. Phillips   

Sgt Phillips onstage

Ground Awards Display 

Chambers Award for Outstanding Leadership by a Company Grade Officer in the Marine Reserve Component – Sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton and MCA&F  - Capt Adam P. Wivell                       

Capt Wivell with Chambers Award

Hulbert Award for Outstanding Leadership by a Marine Gunner – Sponsored by Nammo and MCA&F - CWO-3 Keith A. Marine               

Presentation of Hulbert Award to CWO-3 Marine

Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership - Captain Casey M. Brock

Capt Brock with Leftwich Trophy

Zembiec Family            

Zembiec Award for Outstanding Leadership in the USMC Forces Special Operations Command – Sponsored by Lockheed Martin and MCA&F - Capt Daniel L. Brooks     

Capt Brooks with Zembiec Award   

For biographies of the award recipients, click on the link below:

Dinner Program