2012 MCA&F Professional Dinner

Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 18:00 to 21:00

The Marine Corps Association  & Foundation held the first ever MCA&F Professional Dinner at the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel in Arlington, Virginia on Thursday, 6 September 2012. The dinner featured General Martin Dempsey, USA, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the guest speaker.

The event began with a no-host reception in the lobby area outside the banquet hall which ran concurrently with a VIP Reception for the many General and Flag officers present for the unique occasion of hearing the views of the nation’s most senior military member.  At the conclusion of the receptions, the dinner guests were summoned to the banquet hall, listened to a brief musical serenade by “The President’s Own United States Marine Band and viewed a traditional presentation and retirement of the colors.  Following welcoming remarks by MCA&F President and CEO, MajGen Edward Usher, the Chaplain of the Marine Corps, Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, USN provided the invocation prayer and the dinner guests sat down to a scrumptious meal of Grilled New York Strip Steak.

MajGen Usher took the stage as the desert course was concluding, highlighted some details from the Chairman’s biography and welcomed Gen Dempsey to the stage for his speaker’s remarks.

MCA&F President & CEO MajGen Edward Usher

General Martin Dempsey

Gen Dempsey began his remarks with a quip describing the national security situation in today’s problematic environment – noting that from his perspective, “These are dangerous times, the military needs to be more affordable, become more effective and that is pretty much it!”  Continuing in a humorous vein and seizing the opportunity to poke fun at Marines, he related that he and his wife had just returned from the Naval Academy vs Notre Dame, football game in Ireland where he had occasion to visit an Irish Pub.  While there a visiting Notre Dame fan, a sailor and a Marine were at the bar and a fly landed in each of their beers.  He advised that the Notre Dame, visitor pushed the beer away and asked for another while the sailor calmly fished the fly out and pitched it away and drank the beer.  The Marine grabbed the fly and started squeezing it while retorting to the fly “Spit it out you bastard!”  The dinner guests responded with hilarity.

Advising that he was very glad to be with the Commandant, General James F. Amos, and his wife Bonnie during the night he said he was also pleased to see the SgtMaj of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj Barrett in attendance as well.  He then delivered a popular Irish saying to welcome the dinner guests: “May you live to 100 years – With one year to repent.”   He went on to recognize the two Montford Point Marines who were in attendance and expressed his thanks to the Marine Corps Association & Foundation for organizing the dinner and inviting him to speak.  Pausing for another Irish quip, he said “It’s better to spend Money like there is no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there is no money!”

Speaking of the current challenges affecting national security efforts in the resource constrained circumstances of today he advised that “We will be ok, primarily because of the people the services attract.”  After noting that the new Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force was present in the audience, he said that he was very fond of Marines and that he had several family members who were Marines and that he had tried to go to the Naval Academy in order to become a Marine but was unable to go because of his eyesight.

He said that there was definitely something magical and even mythical about being a Marine.  Making a wry reflection on the turbulence involved in all the changes in the US Army uniform regulations over the last few years, he stated that “You keep your uniforms consistent” and keep a “ramrod” posture and flat belly in the Corps and that Marines seem to have had their spinal fluids drained and replaced with a steel injection.  Remarking on the indomitable spirit of Marines, he related that he had recently watched the Olympics and that one of the contestants was a Marine double amputee and that he found that singularly impressive.

Regarding operational and inter-service matters, he said that he had not really begun to interact with Marines until he was a Colonel but that now, inter-service contacts are frequently and effectively conducted by Lt’s.  He then mentioned a number of Marine Generals with whom he had developed a close affinity and mentioned Marine and former Chairman of the JCS, General Pete Pace, with whom he still maintains contact.  Mentioning the Marine Corps Motto, “Semper Fidelis” he noted that the strong values and sense of honor hinted at in the motto were absolutely unique to the Marine Corps and a great source of strength.  He had talked to Marine General, James Mattis, Commander U.S. Central Command recently about the problems the services face in the era of dwindling resources and what to do about it and quoted General Mattis as saying “ I’m not sure but we will be ok if we keep our honor pure.”

He mentioned service families and pointed out that “They are sacrificing as much as we are!”  He then concluded his remarks with a toast “ Here’s to the Red, White and Blue, God Bless the USMC and that’s this Chairman’s Toast.”

Below is a video of the event to read the guest speaker’s biography.

Here are some additional pictures from the event:

Dinner Guests at the VIP Reception

The President’s Own playing musical serenade


Presentation and Retirement of the Colors

Sgt Maj Bennett, MCA&F Quantico Area Representative Introducing MajGen Usher

General Dempsey’s Presentation